History, Evolution, And Importance Of Stethoscope In Medical World

The very first thing that everyone visualizes about a doctor is undoubtedly the stethoscope. A stethoscope is a medical device with a disk-like resonator, which is placed on the chest and a set of ear piece to enable hearing of the same. It is used to trace the auscultation, which is the technique of listening to the internal sounds produced inside the body.

Doctors of almost every domain in the hospitals carry a stethoscope for primary evaluation of the patients approaching the facility for check-up and treatment. But earlier what happened when the stethoscope was yet to be invented? Let’s understand in brief, how medical evaluations were carried out along with the birth of the first stethoscope.

Before the discovery of stethoscope, the doctors used the technique of simultaneous percussion and auscultation. For the same doctors used to put their ear directly on the chest of the patient. Though the procedure remained effective for a considerable amount of time, it was awkward for both the doctors and patients, when a lady patients were involved and the obvious fact that the number of female doctors in the world could have been counted on fingers.

The same problem was faced by the French physician Rene Laennec as well, in the year 1816, when he was to treat an overweight young lady, suffering from some type of cardiac and respiratory problem. To avoid embarrassment, he rolled up a few sheet lying around in a tube like structure and placed it over the heart of the patient and listened from the other open end.

Laennecs stethoscope

To his surprise, this method yielded an excellent result and he began administering the same for all his patients. Also being a musician, he himself invented an improved structure, the monaural model with only one ear piece.

In the year 1819, he made the findings public and with time the model was improved as more and more physicians began to understand its importance. In the year 1851 came the first ever bi-aural stethoscope.

The ones we see these days are similar to the ones manufactured around the early 1930s, with a few changes in the aspect of material and the resonator etc. Gradually, the stethoscope was used alongside the sphygmomanometer to obtain the blood pressure as well. Nowadays some stethoscope also comes with a recording device to keep a record of the same for the future evaluation.


It is the first and foremost pathological device for diagnosis. We pay our tribute to the great minds that invented and improvised this useful medical device, which is literally the icon of medical science in the world.