Stethoscope is a symbol associated with doctors and rightly so! The instrument turns 202 today. It was invented merely as a need but has been useful ever since.
It was invented in France in 1816 by René Laennec at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris.
Laennec invented the stethoscope because he was uncomfortable placing his ear on women’s chests to hear her heart beats. And that instrument has, since ever been the most important one!
“It’s very much in use both by physician as well as surgeons. It’s a very important tool for diagnosis, to ascertain the progress and completion of the treatment,” said Dr Sanjay Borude, senior bariatric surgeon in Mumbai.
He was seconded by Dr Yashowardhan Kabra, MARD president of KEM hospital, “Even today, it is one thing without which medical diagnosis is incomplete. It is most important invention, till now, in the medical evolution. It is rightly depicted as a symbol of the medical profession.”
“When it comes to clinical judgement, the use of stethoscope will definitely help patients in diagnosis,” said Dr Sanjay Dudhat, President, IMA Mumbai West branch.
Doctors explain that even though in medical practice, automatic machines and technology has entered to a great extent, primary instruments like stethoscope are among most important diagnostic tool till today.
“With advancements in science and technology, its dependence has decreased since we have other options. But, what is traditional and authentic will always have an edge over the others,” said Dr Shruti Mani, practicing Ayurvedic doctor from Thane.
Some experts chose to defer, saying its importance has come down in specific practices.
“In low cost settings, it is a very important tool. But in private practice, it’s only a show piece,” said Dr Amit Kumar Nohwar, co-founder of ‘Doctors For You’ (DFY), Mumbai Project.
Dr Samir Garde, M.D.(Chest) at Global Hospitals in Mumbai said,“The stethoscope is at a crossroads moment, more so today, than at any time in its two-century history as the sounds it transmits have been digitised, amplified, filtered and recorded.”
He added, “The widespread use of echocardiograms and the development of pocket-sized ultrasound devices are raising questions about why doctors and others still continue to use the stethoscope. Yet, a stethoscope exam is an opportunity to create a bond between doctor and patient, unlike any other relationship between two non-related people.”