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Stethoscope - Over 200 years

Published on: 18th January, 2019

With the invention of the stethoscope, in the early 1800s, a better diagnosis of heart and lung disorders was opened up. Through the stethoscope's 200-year history, there has been a significant development of the stethoscopy from the use of the simple monaural earpiece to the binaural stethoscope, followed by the electronic stethoscope, which, together with other studies, has enabled a thorough diagnosis of these disorders. Here is a glimpse of this story. The cross-border investigation Far back in time, it has been clear that the function of the heart and lungs played an important role in maintaining life. By tapping with the finger (percussion) and putting the ear to the patient's chest (auscultation), it could hear sound from the body telling about the patient's condition, especially about the presence of fluid or air-filled organs. Auscultation is already described in the Corpus Hippocraticum, in the Diseases II section [1]. The doctor puts the ear to the chest of a patient with water sores, to hear the pain as a wine vinegar from the lungs - or the doctor grabs the patient about the shoulders, shakes him and places his ear to his chest to hear in which side his pleuritis is sitting. Since then, auscultation seems to have been partially forgotten, although it has probably been known by Ambroise Paré and William Harvey [2]. It was not until the late 1700s that it became an important diagnostic aid, just like the pulse clock and the medical thermometer [3 p. 277]. Here, Joseph Leopold Auenbrugger (1722-1809) is considered to be the father of the modern physical examination, which is based on percussion. Percussion he performed by knocking direcly on the thorax with the finger or cupped hands. His discovery of the percussion sounds from the chest during inhaling and exhaling originates from his work in 1760 at the Vienna Military Hospital [4]. In 1761, His little book on thoracic percussion revealing thoracic diseases appeared in 1761 [3p.271], which in 1808 was translated into French by the Parisian physician Jean Nicolas Corvisart des Marets (1755-1821). This contributed to the French doctors starting to use percussion and ausculation more routinely [5]. The limitation of simple auscultation was the fact that the sound was weak and incomplete and therefore there was a need for improved sound quality. In addition, the direct contact with the patient's body could seem insulting
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