Stethoscopes 101

Regardless of specialty and scope of practice, finding a reliable and high-quality stethoscope is necessary for all healthcare practitioners. Stethoscopes are medical instruments that allow practitioners to perform physical patient assessments through auscultation, or listening to sounds of the heart, lungs, abdomen and more. Without a dependable stethoscope, healthcare professionals wouldn’t be able to make accurate patient assessments.

Littmann Cardiology IV Rainbow Finish Plum Tube

To help you find the right stethoscope for your needs, we put together this guide with features to look for and our favorite stethoscopes from

Stethoscope Anatomy 101

Stethoscopes have several different parts that help with the transfer of a
patient’s internal sounds to the practitioner’s ears during physical assessments and diagnosis.

The parts of the stethoscope include the:

1. Chestpiece

Form and Function: The chestpiece of the stethoscope consists of the diaphragm, stem, and bell. It lets you listen to your patient sounds by placing the diaphragm or bell end on different parts of the patient’s body. Can be a single-head or dual-head.

What to look for: Look for quality materials like stainless steel since it’s the best for accurate acoustics.

2. Diaphragm

Form and Function: The diaphragm is the circular end of the chest-piece that lets you listen to the patient’s internal sounds.

What to look for:  An air-seal to ensure amplified sound quality and a non-chill rim.

3. Eartubes

Form and Function: The eartubes are the metal parts that are connected to the eartips and tubing. They isolate external sounds and transfer internal sounds to your ears.

What to look for: They should be made of a strong, durable material like aluminum alloy.

4. Eartips

Form and Function: Eartips are attached to the eartubes and keep your ears safe.

What to look for: Should be made of soft, durable, and flexible materials like rubber or silicone and need to have a form fitting seal.

5. Stem

Form and Function: The stem is basically the metal part of the stethoscope that connects the stethoscopes tubing to the chest-piece and lets you switch between chestpieces.

What to look for: Should be made of a strong, durable metal.

7. Headset

Form and Function: The headset ensures that the eartubes and eartips fit properly in your ears and provide maximum sound quality.

What to look for: Should be adjustable to ensure a custom fit.

8. Tubing

Form and Function: The tubing helps maintain and transfer sound captured by the diaphragm or bell and sends it to the eartubes where you can hear it.

What to look for: Should be flexible.

Now that you learned more about the stethoscope and all its parts, compliment your scrubs with some of our favorite stethoscopes!

The 3M™ Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope is a general-purpose stethoscope with soft sealing ear tips and an improved design that provides reliable acoustics for basic blood pressure and limited physical assessment.

The 3M™ Littmann Cardiology IV Champagne Finish Stethoscope features a Champagne finish chest-piece, Black Tube, and Smoke stem and headset. The single-piece diaphragm is easy to attach and easy to clean, with a smooth, crevice-free surface. It comes with tunable diaphragms on both the adult and pediatric sides of the chest-piece. The pediatric side can convert to an open bell by just removing the single-piece diaphragm and replacing it with a non-chill rim. The open bell stays clear of dirt and debris when covered by the small diaphragm. The next-generation tubing lasts longer, with improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol. No natural rubber latex or phthalate plasticizers are used in the tubing or any other component.

The 3M™ Littmann Classic III Stethoscope offers high acoustic sensitivity and features a two-sided chestpiece with tunable diaphragms on both the adult and pediatric sides. A tunable diaphragm on one side augments the traditional bell function of the opposite side. The pediatric side converts to a traditional open bell by replacing the single-piece diaphragm with a non-chill rim. Next-generation tubing provides longer life due to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol; less likely to pick up stains. Snap-tight eartips with a soft, smooth surface.

The Prestige Clinical Lite Stethoscope is a classic dual head stethoscope enhanced by light weight anodized aluminum construction. A fiberglass diaphragm is utilized to optimally detect S1 and S2 heart sounds as well as Korotkoff sounds, while the bell side is optimally designed for assessing S3 and S4 heart sounds. The Clinical Lite™ incorporates a snap-on diaphragm retaining ring and a non-chill bell ring which contributes to the ease of use and maintenance, while enhancing patient comfort. Includes two sizes of soft eartips and replacement diaphragm.

Our selection of stethoscopes and stethoscope accessories come in a variety of colors that will match your scrubs perfectly! Tell us about your favorite stethoscope in the comments and on Instagram, tagging @uniformadvantage and #adayinscrubs!

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