Today, trained medical practitioners can save your life fast thanks to tools like stethoscopes.
For generations, medics learned how to use the traditional stethoscope (the bell and diaphragm model). After school, they carried the stethoscopes with them to the ‘real world.’ This is until David Littmann invented new advanced steths that revolutionized how diseases are detected, prevented and treated.
The new era of scopes has arrived in the medical world. With it comes spectacular benefits and potential. In this guide, we go through the working of one of the advanced types of stethoscopes on the market; the electronic stethoscope.
What is an Electronic Stethoscope?
You might be wondering what an electronic stethoscope is and how it’s different from the manual one.
Unlike the conventional steth, an electronic stethoscope uses electricity to amplify body sounds. Technology advancements have enabled electronic amplification of sound to produce wonderful results.
With electronic ‘scopes, nurses and doctors have better control of the volume of their devices. These ‘scopes produce digital (electronic) sound impulses. For physicians with partial hearing loss or those working in noisy areas, the ability to control the volume can be a game changer. The hassle of listening for sounds longer is eliminated, allowing you to save time and get accurate diagnoses.
The health profession is already demanding as it is. A stethoscope that can lessen work exasperation is a necessity.
Electronic Stethoscope vs. Acoustic Stethoscope
The sound-volume control is an awesome feature of digital stethoscopes, but is not the only thing that makes the ‘scopes in demand. Continue reading this electronic stethoscope review for more.
Electronic stethoscopes can record sounds. Therefore, a medical student, nurse, CNA or doctor can record auditory readings on their scope and have another medic listen to help with diagnosis.
Apart from being able to record auditory readings, the recording can be saved on a computer or phone and shared with other medics. Nurses working on long-term individual patient cases can save the recordings for future reference.
There are many benefits of the recording feature. For example, students can learn from recorded sound in group discussions to improve treatment methods. In experimental treatments, sound recordings can be used to study, compare, diagnose and even treat diseases.
Electric stethoscopes can also broadcasting recordings over a sound system. In a conference or education setting, the pre-recorded or live auditory sounds can be streamed in real-time to the team. The broadcast capability allows a team of doctors or nurses to diagnose a patient without making him/her uncomfortable by individually listening to his/her body sounds.
Some companies have developed integrated software applications for various stethoscopes. These applications improve the functionality of the devices, making them more beneficial to both medics and their patients.
One such software is created by Zargis and helps to detect heart murmurs from audio recordings of heartbeats.
Littmann also has a software that allows you to transfer recordings of lung and heart sounds from its electronic stethoscopes (Littmann electronic stethoscope 3200, Littmann electronic stethoscope 4100 and Littmann stethoscope electronic 3100) into visual charts for better study.
Such applications improve the functionality of the stethoscopes, enabling medics to save more lives, faster. The software can help you identify serious or life-threatening conditions early on. When the conditions are detected, you can take the appropriate measures to prevent your patient from getting worse or dying.
Electronic Stethoscope Review: The Features
This feature allows you to customize your ‘scope and listen more comfortably and keenly to make a perfect diagnosis.
LCD Display Screen
A digital stethoscope has an LCD display screen that shows the heart rate with each heartbeat. You can see the heart rhythm on the screen. You will be in a better position to make a more accurate diagnosis when you listen to and watch the heartbeat.
Unlike acoustic stethoscopes that have limited accessories, electronic steths have quite a number that you can choose from. You can use the accessories you love and require. You can also swap these accessories to personalize your steth.
With electronic stethoscopes, the neck injuries and complications that came with the traditional stethoscopes are no more. These modern steths are easy to carry, wear and use.
Electronic Stethoscope Accessories
There are different ways in which you can accessorize your electronic stethoscope, unlike is the case with an acoustic steth.
For example, some electronic steths have attachments that allow you to synchronize them to your computer or smartphone. Therefore, you can share recordings, download and even save them for long-term study. Moreover, if there is healthcare concern, it is easier to alert other medics straight away.
Some electronic steths also have volume amplifiers. Medics with mild hearing impairment will find this feature beneficial.
With some digital ‘scopes, you can swap traditional earphones with high sound quality headphones. You can use ergonomic earbuds and noise canceling earphones with the stethoscopes to improve your listening.
Finally, some models have direct wire input devices. This makes it easier to download recordings from them to your smartphone or computer. This means you don’t have to rely on Wi-Fi to upload your recordings.
Let’s check some important factors to consider when buying an electronic stethoscope as well as some of the best models you can get.
What to Consider When Buying an Electronic Stethoscope
Ease of Use
Select an electronic stethoscope that has easy-to-use controls. The device should have dedicated buttons for switching it on/off. Moreover, you should be able to adjust the volume and change the mode between bell/diaphragm on the head.
Early digital stethoscopes failed prematurely because the batteries got drained quickly. However, the modern stethoscopes on the market today come with batteries with a longer lifespan. The best electronic stethoscope can be used more than 125 times when powered on a pair of AAA batteries.
Check the battery lifespan of the stethoscope you want to buy. Choose a digital scope that can be powered for a long time with batteries.
Ability to Download, Share and Store Diagnostics Data
Digital stethoscopes convert analog sound into digital format. Any data that is in digital format can be transmitted, modified and stored. Therefore, when you take your patient’s vital signs with a digital ‘scope, you can store it for references during future diagnostics. You can also share the digital data with other medics when you need a second opinion on the vital signs.
In case the patient changes doctors, the medical history diagnostics data can be easily transferred to the physicians with the click of a button.
Choose a stethoscope that can record, store and share the diagnostics data you get from patients.
Ambient Noise Handling and Reduction
If you’ve gone to a music concert before, you know how feedback loop sounds like. The loop is the high-pitch screech that comes out of the speaker due to the sound being amplified. A digital stethoscope amplifies sound in a similar manner.
However, the best electronic stethoscopes have been designed to prevent amplification of the amplified sounds to ensure there is no feedback loop. Digital stethoscopes eliminate unwanted noises during an auscultation procedure.
The best electric stethoscopes use complex transducers that turn analog sounds into digital sound patterns to enable doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals hear lung sounds, heart murmurs, and so on. The digital sound can be amplified and modified to be used in different ways. The amplification and modification of sound are not possible with traditional ‘scopes.
Best Electronic Stethoscope Reviews
The best electronic stethoscope on the market is the Thinklabs ONE. The device offers unparalleled sound quality, enabling you to hear faint murmurs and sounds of any type of patient.
The ‘scope amplifies sound to 100 times and has adjustable volume controls. You will need everything you need to hear when taking vital signs, even on difficult patients like those who are obese.
The Thinklabs ONE has an audio jack on the side where you can input your own headphones. This makes it the best electronic stethoscope for hearing impaired.
The Littmann 3100 electronic stethoscope is lightweight, comfortable and easy to use. The ‘scope can amplify sounds up to 24 times, providing a great sound experience. This stethoscope matches the top-of-the-line cardiology stethoscopes on the market in performance.
The Littmann electronic stethoscope has exclusive noise-reduction technology that cancels out any ambient noise that may interfere with the auscultation process. As a result, you will focus more on what you need to hear. Its state-of-the-art filter and sensor provide exceptional performance.
You need a business account license to purchase the Littmann 3100 electronic stethoscope on Amazon.
Last on the list of the best electronic stethoscope is the EKO Core Digital Stethoscope. While this is a digital stethoscope, its working mechanism is analog! The device can be used with the conventional stethoscope.
The EKO Core electronic stethoscope has a Bluetooth component that can connect to your tablet or phone. As you take the vital signs, the component will transform the analog sound waves to digital and send them to your phone or tablet.
Keep in mind that the EKO stethoscope does not record any sounds. Instead, it simply transforms the analog waves to digital waves and sends them through. You can then store the digital sound waves in a patient’s medical record.
The EKO core is an excellent electronic stethoscope for those who work in the cardiology section.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Own an Electronic Stethoscope?
Many healthcare professionals haven’t switched to the modern technology scope because of several intricacies. These include:
Since electronic stethoscopes require batteries, some medics shy away from them. They fear they will be forced to walk around with a charger or extra batteries, Moreover, there is the hassle of having to change the batteries in the heat of the moment.
Unlike traditional acoustic stethoscopes that only require alcohol, water and a sponge to be cleaned, the parts of the electronic scope are delicate. The parts are not waterproof and some models require special cleaning liquid.
Fixed Work Environments
Electronic stethoscopes are not waterproof. Therefore, you need to be careful with the environment you are using them in. You cannot use them in extremely wet condition. Moreover, they can get too humid when used in hot conditions.
Poor Launch Reputation
Premier electronic stethoscopes garnered a bad reputation for being unable to pick up sounds that acoustic scopes could. This made physicians wary of purchasing them.
However, this downfall was addressed. The latest electronic stethoscopes have been integrated with acoustic technology, which has improved their acoustic capability.
With the rapid advancement in technology, it will soon make sense for medics to own a digital electronic stethoscope. Consider investing in one as soon as today.
Though the scopes can be quite expensive, they reduce the time and improve your ability to make the correct diagnosis. With careful maintenance of your device, you will be glad you invested in it.
While the stethoscopes are more expensive than their analog counterparts, they produce high-quality sounds that will ensure you do not miss anything while carrying out a vital signs reading. Step out of your comfort zone and get an electronic stethoscope today.
The best electronic stethoscope is the Thinklabs ONE. With the ability to amplify sounds by up to 100 times, you cannot miss even the faintest sounds in any patient.