It is a beautiful Monday morning at St Lucy’s Hospital, the young and energetic student nurse Catherine cannot wait for her first clinical session at the Lucy’s teaching hospital.
What would her experience be like?
Would her patients be comfortable with her?
Would she be able to put to use properly the things she has been taught?
As these questions crossed her curious mind, her eyes flashed through a book on her reading table titled “My stethoscope, my friend”. She had really enjoyed reading the book, which centers on the life stories of nurses and especially their first experiences when using the stethoscope, before she slept off last night. She imagined herself putting on the stethoscope and walking gracefully into the wards with the patients eagerly waiting for her, as a smile broadens on her face. She freezes…oh Gosh!!
“I’m supposed to come along with a stethoscope to my clinical session today”.
There is a wide range of choices
But with so many options, Catherine could not imagine that her long awaited first clinical session would be marred by a poor choice of stethoscope.
”No!! what should I do…” Catherine worriedly asks herself.
Whether you are choosing your first stethoscope or an upgrade to an existing one, there are lots of options. With lots of options but little or no knowledge, the old age question is “Which stethoscope should I buy?”. The truth is it depends on a number of things…Let’s take a look at these, shall we?
There are different kinds of stethoscope grouped under a few specific categories. These categories include:
● Acoustics stethoscopes
● Fetal stethoscopes
● Electronic stethoscopes
● Doppler stethoscopes
● Recording stethoscopes
It is the most commonly used stethoscope in these categories. Just as the name implies, it picks up sound waves in form of pressure waves which are created from the vibrations of the skin and then sends the waves through air-filled tubes to the resonator disk and then to the earpieces. The resonator contains two sides and can be used to listen to internal organs.
It is used to listen to the heart sounds of a growing fetus. It is a unique stethoscope in terms of its shape, with its shape like that of a trumpet and is placed directly against the abdomen of the pregnant woman.
Have you ever used a stereo amplifier?. An electronic stethoscope convert acoustic pressure waves into electrical signals and can be used to listen to greater degree of sound than Acoustic stethoscope, it works just the same way a stereo amplifier works.
This is a little advancement on the acoustic stethoscope and could pick up sounds that the acoustic stethoscope cannot, it is used to measure the doppler effect of ultrasound waves as they reflect or bounce off internal organs.
In this category of stethoscope, sounds heard from the stethoscope can be archived, or recorded such that they can be studied even in the absence of further examination on the patient.This is done using an external recording device that can be attached via an audio port in the stethoscope.
What are the best brands of stethoscopes?
Let us now consider some of the best brands of stethoscopes as we also look at some of their features such as quality; durability; functionality; and price range. Grab a cup of tea and lets continue the ride.
The best brands of stethoscopes include:
● Littmann Classic S.E II
● Littmann Cardiology III
● ADC Adscope 603 ST
● Prestige Medical Clinical Cardiology
Littmann Classic S.E II
This is the most common stethoscope among the nursing students.
Price: 7,560- 15,380NGN
Lightweight: You can conveniently carry it on for more than 12 hours of work without feeling weary of the load
Dual-sided chest piece: You can rotate the bell in the diaphragm, either to listen to low frequency or high frequency sounds.
Tunable diaphragm: This can capture pressure changes, if you don’t want to use the dual-sided chest piece feature, you can either decide to press gently or firmly to listen to low or high frequencies sound respectively
Littmann Cardiology III
Price: 28,300- 50,760NGN
What they say: A lot of students see this stethoscope as an upgrade to the Litmann Classic S.E II, they reason that when they start working they can continue to use the stethoscope and do not need to buy another one.
Two-in-one tube design: This helps eliminate noise and provides clear sound.
Double-sided chest piece: The plus here is that you can use the stethoscope for both adults and paediatric patient
Acoustics: They have better acoustics than other stethoscopes and could be useful if you intend doing ICU or cardiology.
Professionals view: Sheri Tokarczyk, the director of academic affairs and physician assistant education at Northshoe University Health System in Ilinois. She have used her 3M Littmann Master Cardiology stethoscope for 25 years. ”It’s held up very well after taking a beating for years”. she said “ Last year I spent $80 to have the tubing and headpiece replaced by Littmann” as it needed a facelift.
ADC Adscope 603 ST
Price: 11,460- 15,280NGN
Dual-sided, but not tunable diaphragm
Cheaper, alternative to the Littmann brands
Prestige Medical Clinical Cardiology Stethoscope
Price: 22,920- 26,740NGN
Two-in-one tubing,this is not found in any of the Littmann brands
What people say: They love this stethoscope because they work in loudsettings,so they can hear sounds even though there are a lot of background noise
Price: 30,560- 34,380NGN
Lightweight: Weighs less than 6 ounces
Acoustics: You can access sounds even through thick clothing
Single-head does not have rotating bell and diaphragm.
In need of a stethoscope? Am sure you do not have to worry on which to buy!!!
Writer: Ayodele Oluwatayo
University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, Nigeria.