In the field of medical science, diagnostics have made tremendous progress in the past few decades and most doctors, whether general practitioners or senior surgeons, rely a lot on the reports; say from an ECG or an ECHO test. However, the stethoscope that doctors have relied on for years, to examine their patients, manages to diagnose it correctly 90% of the time even today. So, exactly how do doctors use stethoscopes in diagnostics? Let us try and understand in some detail.
Understanding A Stethoscope First
Stethoscopes mainly consist of three components: the earpiece, the tubes which join in a ‘U’ shape and at their end, the chest piece. The chest piece has a tunable diaphragm, which the doctor or any medical practitioner would keep on the patient’s chest or back to listen to the sound frequencies emanating from the heart beats and the expansion and contraction of the lungs. With these sounds and based on their learning and experience, the professional will know if there is something wrong and can even recommend a preliminary treatment. Thus, if patients have symptoms of bronchitis or unusual heart beat, or if they suffer from gastrointestinal problems, then the doctor is clearly able to detect by his or her stethoscope itself.
How Does the Stethoscope Function?
The stethoscope has a flat surface on the chest piece in which there is a diaphragm, and this picks up the sound frequencies which are then transmitted through the tubing to the earpieces. The person using the stethoscope has the knowledge of what these frequencies represent and what to expect in a normal person’s heartbeat or lung functioning. If the frequencies being heard now are abnormal, then the doctor is able to detect the difference and decide that the patient needs to be given appropriate treatment.
The Sounds And Their Indications
To the question, how do doctors use stethoscopes in diagnostics?, the doctors receive basic training even as they start out on their medical education. They learn that when the heart beats normally, the sounds that one can discern through the stethoscope is “lub-dub”. This is the description given. As far as the lungs are concerned, the abnormality is detected through the wheezing that comes through the stethoscope when the chest piece is placed on the bare chest right where the lungs are located. All these are aspects for which the doctors are trained, and they use the stethoscope accordingly. The entire process is known in the medical terminology as auscultation. The training will also include the four spots where the chest piece is to be placed and pressed slightly; these are the base right, base left, left lateral and the apex. These will help assess the Aortic, Pulmonic, Triscupid and Mitral cardiovascular sounds of the heart.
Special Applications And Uses of Stethoscope
Since the heartbeat is a very vital body function and assessing the condition of the heartbeat to diagnose a patient is one of the main uses of the stethoscopes, it would be even more interesting to know how the cardiologists use this instrument. Technology has now helped in making advanced, Bluetooth enabled, electronic stethoscopes, which have made the job of the cardiologists easier in both diagnosis and while administering the treatment.