Whether you own a stethoscope or your interested in buying one there are some common questions that get asked about them, so we’ve decided to dedicate a page that provides answers to some of the most frequency questions.
This article will provide information how to choose a stethoscope, how to maintain it and how to sell it when you’re done with it.
We’ll also discuss the components of the stethoscope and how to replace them and what a dual-headed stethoscope and an electronic stethoscope is.
How much do stethoscopes cost?
The price of a stethoscope can vary greatly anywhere from $20 – $300 or more depending on the stethoscopes material, features and brand.
For example there are a number of good beginner/student stethoscopes on the market that can be purchased for $20 – $40 and work great in general settings where medical professionals need to listen to the most common sounds.
Higher end stethoscopes that are designed for specific uses such as cardiology or pediatric care may cost medical professionals a little more money because of their material and function.
In most cases individuals can purchase a quality stethoscope for around $40 – $80 based on their work function and personal needs.
Electronic stethoscopes can be priced even higher due to their electronic components and specialized function.
These stethoscopes may cost more, however they allow medical professionals to significantly amplify the sounds they’re hearing, which can be highly beneficial if they work in a loud atmosphere or have hearing difficulties.
Should I buy a cheap or expensive stethoscope?
The amount of money you need to spend for a good stethoscope will depend on your personal/work needs.
As mentioned earlier most working professionals can get a quality stethoscope for around $40 – $80 dollars, however if you’re a student or working in a general field you can probably get decent use out of a $20 – $40 stethoscope.
In these cases stethoscopes price may will likely vary due to the quality of the bell/diaphragm and the materials its made out of with more expensive stethoscopes likely utilizing lighter and/or more durable materials.
Once you begin looking at stethoscopes over $80 you’re probably looking at ones that are used for specialized medical purposes or are electronic / digital in nature.
Where can I buy a stethoscope?
There are a number of online retailers that sell stethoscopes along with eCommerce sites such as overstock.com and Amazon.com.
In addition to purchasing them online you may find some sold at local stores such as Walgreen’s and Walmart.
Prior to buying any stethoscope on or offline you should be sure to do your due diligence and research the stethoscope in order to make sure it will meet your needs.
Which stethoscope is best for me?
The stethoscope that is best for your needs will depend on what you’ll be using it for daily.
If you work with with infants and small children then you may want to look at pediatric stethoscopes that are designed for particular type of work.
If you work in a cardiologist office or deal with patients suffering from heart problems then it might make sense to research cardiology stethoscopes.
If you operate in a loud environment, require really precise sound oscillation or have trouble hearing through regular stethoscopes than an electronic stethoscope may make your job a little easier.
If you are a student or just starting out in your nursing career than a basic $20 – $40 stethoscope might do the trick, however if you have the extra money and want to get something nice than you can also spring for a higher end stethoscope that is made with better sound acoustics and stronger, lightweight metals.
One of the best ways to get advice on choosing a good stethoscope is to ask those around you who are in the same line of work as you what stethoscope they use and what they like/hate about their stethoscope.
What is a dual-headed stethoscope?
Dual-headed stethoscopes are designed to give the user the ability to listen to a specific area and hear a wider range of sound frequencies.
These stethoscopes may come with a dual-sided large / small diaphragm, which provides a wider / narrow sound range and frequency, or come in a diaphragm / bell combination where the bell allows the user to listen to the lowest range of sounds.
What are the parts of a stethoscope?
A stethoscope can be broken down into several parts that may be replaced or interchanged depending on the maker and the design of the stethoscope.
These parts may include:
- Ear tips
- Binaurals – (the metal parts that extend from the ear-tip to the tubing)
- Tubing – (the rubber material that transfers sound from the diaphragm to the ears)
- Stem – (the metal part that connects the tubing to the chest-piece)
- Chest-piece – (composed of a diaphragm and/or bell)
- Ball bearing – (allows the user to switch auditory sounds between the diaphragm and bell)
Each of these components may be sold separately in higher end stethoscopes that are made to last longer or serve multiple uses.
What are the advantages of an electronic / digital stethoscope?
The primary advantages of an electronic stethoscope is its ability to amplify sound, improved sound oscillation for better clarity, better frequency control and digital display feedback.
These stethoscopes are great for cardiologist specialists or respiratory therapists that need to be able to tune into specific sounds and/or want gain additional insights about a patients medical condition through a visual digital display.
While there are definitely some advantages to using an electronic / digital stethoscope most healthcare professionals will not need to purchase one as these stethoscopes aren’t needed for most basic assessments.
If on the other hand a specialist does have the money and/or needs a really acute listening device these stethoscopes may just provide the additional functionality they need to get the most out of their work.
How do I clean my stethoscope?
In most cases individuals who purchase/use stethoscopes should follow the cleaning instructions that are packaged with their stethoscope.
In many situations it is recommended that a stethoscope should be cleaned with alcohol wipes, 70% isopropyl alcohol solution or specially designed stethoscope cleaners.
Be sure to wipe down the stethoscope with non-invasive cleaning agents as some chemicals such as nail polish remove may harm, discolor or degrade the stethoscopes tubing and/or other materials.
Do not submerge or immerse your stethoscope in any chemicals while cleaning it as this may cause issues with sound quality and potentially harm the stethoscope.
Also make sure you keep your stethoscope away from extremely hot or cold environments and/or chemicals as they may damage or degrade the quality of the stethoscope.
Lastly, the stethoscopes earpieces can and should be removed during cleaning.
Dirty earpieces can typically be replaced at a fairly inexpensive cost rather than being cleaned and reused if they get too dirty/damaged.
Why is my stethoscope discolored?
There are a number of reasons your stethoscope may be discolored.
Some factors that are known to cause discoloration of a stethoscope may include:
- Product material
- Cleaning chemicals
- Environmental overexposure
Low quality materials – Stethoscopes made out of inexpensive, low quality material may simply discolor with age and through normal usage. In this case there is nothing you have done to cause the discoloration as its simply a characteristic of that model.
Harsh / abrasive cleaning chemicals – If you use harsh chemicals when cleaning your stethoscope you damage it or cause discoloration. To avoid this only use chemicals that have been approved by the manufacturer, which you can usually find online or in the instruction manual.
Environmental overexposure – Exposing your stethoscope to hot, cold, or damp environments or leaving it in direct sunlight may eventually cause discoloring. To avoid this try keeping your stethoscope in carrying case and don’t leave it in an environment where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures, such as in your car during the summer.
How do I fix a broken stethoscope?
If you damage a component of your stethoscope and want to replace it you should check the online manufacturer/sellers website to see if they offer replacement parts or see if its mentioned in the instruction manual.
Many high end stethoscopes come with parts that can be replaced and interchanged when it becomes necessary.
Less expensive stethoscopes may not offer any replacement parts or only allow standard components such as the ear tips to be replaced.
If you do need to replace a part decide which component needs replacement.
This may include:
- Ear tips
- Chest-piece (composed of a diaphragm and/or bell)
- Ball bearing (allows the user to switch auditory sounds between the diaphragm and bell)
Once you’ve found the part that needs to be replaced you can order it online from the manufacturer or retailer (if it’s available), however you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with the stethoscope you own as different brands/model may be designed differently.
Lastly, the instructions for replacing the component will likely be mailed with the replacement part, however if it isn’t you can always contact the manufacturer / seller for specifics on how to replace it.
How do I sell my old stethoscope?
If you’ve maintained your stethoscopes condition and want to sell it you can try selling it through a number of online and offline channels such as:
- Online – eBay, Craigslist, Facebook etc…
- Colleges / Universities – Flyers, school webpages, email etc…
- Person to person – Students, coworkers and other medical professionals
Depending on your available time and personality each of these methods can be an effective way to sell your old/used stethoscope or other medical gear, just make sure you properly clean your stuff and replace any bad components before you sell it.
Selling your stethoscope (especially a high quality one) allows others to purchase one at a discounted price, and can help offset the cost of you buying a new stethoscope.