Why Does a Stethoscope Have Two Sides?

10/07/2019

As a doctor, your stethoscope is your main tool. Right from your college days, you are taught how essential your diagnosis using the simple stethoscope is. However, not many people know or remember that the stethoscope has 7 parts. Surprised? Well, it does! What is more surprising to most doctors is the fact that most stethoscopes have two sides that can be used to listen to the sounds in the chest.

The Two sides

The chest piece of a stethoscope is the part that is placed on the patient’s chest to listen to sounds. This chest piece has two sides– the diaphragm and the bell. The diaphragm is the large, flat circular end of the chest piece whereas, the bell is the smaller, circular end of the chest piece. The diaphragm-end of the stethoscope being the larger surface helps pick up the high frequency sounds that are strong enough to vibrate the diaphragm in the body.

The bell-end of the stethoscope is smaller than the diaphragm-end and is slightly concave. This side of the stethoscope is useful to pick up narrow range or low frequency sounds that may reach only as far as the skin and are not easily detected by the diaphragm-end of the stethoscope. The diaphragm and the bell have a non-chill design and are made up of a hypoallergenic material so that it is extremely comfortable for the patients. The outer surface of both the surfaces have a circular ring that ensures a good suction when the stethoscope is placed on the chest to give clear sounds from inside the body. There are many improvisations on this traditional stethoscope design, including digitizing the device to amplify the sounds for better clarity and quality.

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