There are a variety of stethoscopes sold on the market today that cater to different healthcare needs, and most of these stethoscopes come with one of several heads/chest-pieces that are designed to listen to and transfer sound from the head of the stethoscope to the users ears.
The chest-piece or head of the stethoscope is one of the most important parts of the listening device.
It allows the medical professional or user to listen to a wide range sounds and can often be tuned to narrow or widen it’s range and frequency based on the users needs, which is important when dealing with patients who have different medical conditions or are at different stages of development in their life cycle such as infants and adults.
In many cases these stethoscopes will use one of three different heads known as a single-head, dual head or electronic head.
Each of these chest-pieces have their own unique benefits that can significantly enhance the sound quality of the specific medical conditions they are designed to detect.
Here are three of the most common stethoscope heads/chest-pieces you’ll find medical professionals using today.
Depending on the medical professionals needs the type of stethoscope chest piece the use will differ to fit their work needs.
The rest of this article will hopefully provide you with a better understanding of each type of stethoscope head/chest-piece so that you can properly identify them and know how and why they are designed the way they are.
Single-head stethoscopes offer users a dedicated listening experience by having a one sided chest-piece with an adjustable diaphragm.
The single sided chest-piece allows the device to tune into a wide range of sounds and frequencies, and is excellent for medical professionals that work with patients who are dealing with a variety of heart/cardiovascular conditions as it will allow the user to adjust the diaphragm in order to listen to the different sounds of the lungs, stomach and heart.
This is extremely important when trying to identity different medical problems that create different sounds in the body.
For medical professionals that provide care to adults suffering from common medical conditions a large adjustable diaphragm may be the best device to get the job done.
Dual-head stethoscopes are stethoscopes that have either a dual-side diaphragm or a diaphragm and a bell.
These stethoscopes are able to listen to different/specific ranges of sound based on a patients condition and age.
A stethoscope with a large and small diaphragm can be a great choice for those who want to listen to sounds from large organs or small specific areas of the body.
For example a doctor may choose to listen to the lungs, stomach or heart with the larger diaphragm so that he/she can listen to a wider area of the body and hear a wider variety of sounds.
When trying to narrow down a sound to a specific region however the doctor may choose to use the narrow end of the diaphragm, which shrinks the sound area and helps the doctor focus on that specific area of the body.
Stethoscopes that have a bell are designed to listen to really low-frequency sounds and murmurs that may be difficult for diaphragms to properly pick up.
This allows doctors to listen to a different set of sounds that can help them properly diagnose their patients condition.
Electronic stethoscopes allow the user to tune into specific sound frequencies and amplify those sounds for proper diagnosis of a patients medical condition.
These stethoscopes are great for medical professionals who work in cardiology and really need to get the best sound quality out of their device.
Electronic stethoscopes are also used by individuals who have trouble hearing out of standard stethoscopes.
Some electronic stethoscopes even come with a digital display to help the user identity potential medical issues and allows patients to observe what their doctor/physician is listening to.
While electronic stethoscopes are great at amplifying the features of a regular stethoscope the price for one can vary anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars making it a device that is often used by medical professionals that require the additional functionality out of their stethoscope.
In addition to the price these stethoscopes may also take up additional space and weigh more than regular stethoscopes which can affect the mobility of the medical professionals that are always moving around or need to quickly move from one place to another on a regular basis.
Which stethoscope is best?
As you can see each of these stethoscopes has its own pros and cons depending on who is using it and what it’s being used for.
In the end there is no best or worst stethoscope as the best one will be the one that is right for the job.
For most medical professionals a decent single or dual-sided chest-piece will work just fine.
If a more powerful stethoscope is needed for specific work or due to difficulty hearing than an electronic stethoscope may be the right option.
One of the best ways to determine which stethoscope is best for the job is to observe other medical professionals that specialize in a specific area of healthcare and ask them which one they prefer or use based on their line of work.
Cardiologist for example may give a completely different answer for what they use compared to those who work as registered nurses or those who work outside of a hospital setting such as paramedics and EMT’s.
Each medical professional will choose a stethoscope that’s right for them and their work needs.
If you’d like to learn more about stethoscopes be sure to take a look at these great articles.