Are stethoscopes dying as modern rivals pose threat?
Now open: Certificate Course in Management of Covid-19 by Govt. Of Gujarat and PlexusMDKnow more...Now open: Certificate Course in Management of Covid-19 by Govt. Of Gujarat and PlexusMDKnow more...
Two centuries after its invention, the stethoscope— the very symbol of the medical profession—is facing an uncertain prognosis.

It is threatened by hand-held devices that are also pressed against the chest but rely on ultrasound technology, artificial intelligence and smartphone apps instead of doctors’ ears to help detect leaks, murmurs, abnormal rhythms and other problems in the heart, lungs and elsewhere. Some of these instruments can yield images of the beating heart or create electrocardiogram graphs.

Dr Eric Topol, a world-renowned cardiologist, considers the stethoscope obsolete, nothing more than a pair of “rubber tubes."

It “was OK for 200 years," Topol said. But “we need to go beyond that. We can do better."

In a longstanding tradition, nearly every US medical school presents incoming students with a white coat and stethoscope to launch their careers. It’s more than symbolic—stethoscope skills are still taught, and proficiency is required for doctors to get their licenses.

Over the last decade, though, the tech industry has downsized ultrasound scanners into devices resembling TV remotes. It has also created digital stethoscopes that can be paired with smartphones to create moving pictures and read-outs.

At many medical schools, it’s the newer devices that really get students’ hearts pumping.

“Wow!" ‘’Whoa!" ‘’This is awesome," Indiana University medical students exclaimed in a recent class as they learned how to use a hand-held ultrasound device on a classmate, watching images of his lub-dubbing heart on a tablet screen.

Laennec’s creation was a hollow tube of wood, almost a foot long, that made it easier to hear heart and lung sounds than pressing an ear against the chest. Rubber tubes, earpieces and the often cold metal attachment that is placed against the chest came later, helping to amplify the sounds.

But picking up and interpreting body sounds is subjective and requires a sensitive ear—and a trained one.

With medical advances and competing devices over the past few decades, “the old stethoscope is kind of falling on hard times in terms of rigorous training," said Dr James Thomas, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. “Some recent studies have shown that graduates in internal medicine and emergency medicine may miss as many of half of murmurs using a stethoscope."

“During my work hours in my office, if I don’t have it around my shoulders," he said, “it’s as though I was feeling almost naked."

A K●●r and 17 others like this11 shares
Dr. P●●●●●●●●h S●●h
Dr. P●●●●●●●●h S●●h Pathology
The marriage of modern medicine and technology will bear many a fruit that will nourish an entire ecology of medical gadgets and applications. Thus, an entire industry will come to fruition. This will also spawn an entire generation that will have access to such technology and thus will lead to democratization of and transparency in medicine. Medicine will no longer have a specialised vocabulary.
Oct 30, 2019Like1
Dr. M●●●●●v D●●●i
Dr. M●●●●●v D●●●i Internal Medicine
Beg to differ for the utility of Stethoscope in Medicine in so many instances, especially in remote area where even basic investigation facilities like x-ray is not available, USG and Echocardigraphy are a distinct dreams. Where would a doctor diagnose pneumonia, bronchial asthma, pericarditis etc. without a Stethoscope. And last but not the least, you need to document no heart sounds and breath sounds and other signs to declare a patient as dead.... Read more
Nov 3, 2019Like1