The 10 Best Stethoscopes
Our Picks in Detail
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* Last update of prices was on 2019-01-18 10:01:50 via PA API. Prices or conditions may have changed in the meantime.
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Stethoscope Buying Guide
Many people are lucky enough to have their first stethoscope gifted to them by a knowledgeable mentor or parent. Others had one issued to them by the school or hospital and never looked back. But, even they will one day face the horror of buying one alone.For the most part, people often reorder whichever model they are accustomed to using. However, taking the time to explore new options may help you find products that make auscultation much more comfortable and accurate. Making that first purchase can be tricky and a little complicated, but it is possible to avoid throwing yourself at the mercy of the salesperson in the medical supply store.
In general, stethoscopes come in four types; acoustic, electric, recording and fetal. Electric stethoscopes are becoming more popular as they allow you to record and play back the sounds, as well as amplify any noises you hear. While it is possible that electric stethoscopes (also called stethophones) will replace the acoustic versions, they have yet to render them obsolete. Fetal stethoscopes are also widely in use but are very specific in their uses.
For our purposes, we will stick to acoustic stethoscopes. These are the kind that you often see carried around by doctors and nurses. When buying an acoustic stethoscope, you simply need to keep six things in mind when making your purchase.
Look for a chest piece constructed of high-density metal like stainless steel or titanium. Also, ensure that the chest piece is polished both inside and out. Unpolished metals will muffle or absorb sound. A titanium chest piece that is smooth and polished internally and externally will offer you clearer, more crisp sound.
The stem should click into place and fit snugly to avoid sound leakage. Like the chest piece, the stem must be of high quality, high-density metal. Don't overlook small details like this or you can reduce the effectiveness of the stethoscope.
This is going to seem like a minor point, but the fit and material used for ear tips is vital to getting accurate readings the first time. They should come in a variety of sizes, like earbuds, and create a seal in your ears to keep external noise out. The idea here is to make sure that you match comfort with functionality even in this small detail.
There is a trick here. Sometimes the description of the product will only tell you the material of the chest piece. The headset should be made of the same high-density material as the chest piece but that isn't always the case. Make sure to ask. The reason why this is important is the same. Sound. Be sure that you are getting the same quality acoustics from all of the metal pieces in your stethoscope.
There are two things to consider with tubing. The first is length. The lengths will vary so find one that works best for you. Some prefer longer tubes in order to operate from a safe distance from their patients. The key is to make sure the material used is well insulated and not prone to snapping. It's no secret that your stethoscope will see a lot of action. Make sure that it is built for the wear and tear. Insulated tubing is best to help keep out external noises.
As always, make sure it is made from durable material. You may want to choose between a fixed or an adjustable diaphragm. Some prefer a fixed diaphragm as it makes it easier to discern between low and high-frequency sounds. Others prefer the flexibility offered with an adjustable diaphragm.
Keeping these six points in mind, shopping for a stethoscope, whether as a gift for a new graduate, or for personal use should become much mo.
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