Definition of Stethoscope
The cardiologist uses a stethoscope to listen to the function of the valves in the heart, to the heart rate, to the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart, and for abnormal sounds, such as a pericardial rub or a heart murmur, that can indicate cardiovascular disorders.
The French physician René Laënnec (1781-1821) invented the stethoscope and introduced the first practical model, a simple tube with a flare at one end and a small opening that served as an earpiece at the other end, in 1816.
The instrument evolved over the next 100 years into the familiar style in use today, a flexible “Y” of tubing with dual earpieces and a combination bell and diaphragm with a lever to switch between them.
The bell picks up low-pitched tones and the diaphragm picks up high-pitched tones.
See also AUSCULTATION.