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What Kind of Stethoscope is Right for You?

Did you know that the stethoscope was first created using rolled-up paper tube? In 1816, French physician Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope using a long, rolled paper tube to funnel the sound from the patient's chest to his ear. It was clear from the beginning that the acoustic properties of the tube greatly improved Laennec's ability to hear vital heart and lung sounds.

Today, a stethoscope is an essential item in every school nurse’s health office. It helps diagnose several health problems in just a few seconds. Here are the different kinds of stethoscopes and their differences:

Acoustic stethoscopes transmit sounds from the chest piece, via air-filled hollow tubes, to the listener’s ears. Most medical professionals use a standard single or double head model.

  • Single head stethoscopes offer only one flat, circular surface for general purpose use, they can cover a wide frequency of sounds and allow the user to focus on either the higher or lower end of the spectrum.
  • Dual head stethoscopes offer two heads, one on each side of the chest piece. The larger one –the diaphragm – is flatter and works better for high frequency sounds. The smaller one – the bell – looks more like an elongated cup and works best on low frequency sounds.


Electronic stethoscopes take the physical vibrations of the sound and translate them into an electronic signal, providing amplification and ambient noise reduction.

Pediatric stethoscopes have a medium-sized chest piece to allow for more accurate auscultation in children, come in child-friendly shapes and colors, and have non-chill bells and diaphragms for patient comfort.

Sprague rappaport type stethoscopes have a distinct design that features two tubes reaching directly from the stethoscope chest piece to the metal curved earpiece. To avoid separation, the tubes are held together with metal clips. The double-barreled design is intended to boost sound quality.

Cardiology stethoscopes offer improved acoustic performance with better audibility of high-frequency sounds. They isolate subtle sounds in the most critical and challenging environments.

Shop our selection of stethoscopes here.

Remember, stethoscopes should be cleaned after each use in order to avoid the spread of infection. Click here to shop alcohol prep pads.

If you have any questions about stethoscopes, please contact MacGill. We’re here to help!

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