The Single Tunable Stethoscope vs. The Double Sided Stethoscope

Tons of stethoscope manufacturers would claim that they have the best device in the world. There are a variety of stethoscope models out in the market today, yet the spotlight and the hot seat is now on the rivalry between the double sided stethoscope and the single tunable stethoscope.

Littmann is the premier stethoscope manufacturer throughout the world. Perhaps not everyone is aware, but Littmann is the only company who has what is called tunable technology.

What is this tunable technology? Let us discuss this in terms of identifying the similarities between the two, then making a clear cut comparison between the typical stethoscope (the common double sided stethoscope) and the Littmann-patented single tunable stethoscope.

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The Similarities

Generally speaking, these two types of stethoscopes would appear one and the same to the average Joe. Every stethoscope has a headset, a pair of ear tubes and ear tips, a chest piece, a stem, and of course, tubing. However, if you dig a bit deeper, you would see how they greatly differ.

The Differences

The Double Sided Stethoscope

The typical type of stethoscope that you would often see used by entry-level medical practitioners is the double sided stethoscope. By definition, double sided stethoscopes refer to those stethoscopes that have both a bell and a diaphragm. When using a double sided stethoscope, the user needs to rotate the chest piece to index or open the stethoscope’s bell or diaphragm.

The basic concept with this type of instrument is that when the bell is open, the other side (or the diaphragm) is automatically closed to prevent other sounds from coming in it. This also works the other way around if ever you open the diaphragm. Generally speaking, the bell is employed through light skin contact and it used to listen to low frequency sounds. On the other hand, firm skin contact is needed to use the diaphragm if you want to listen to sounds of high frequency.

The Single Tunable Stethoscope

A single tunable stethoscope (or what’s popularly called the tunable diaphragm or a dual-frequency stethoscope) is one that combines the features of a diaphragm and a bell. You can conveniently switch between the two without needing to turn it over from one to the other. Instead, you can just change modes by changing the pressure you apply on the chest piece.

If you would want to listen to low frequency sounds, use the “bell mode.” You can do so by lightly resting the chest piece on your patient. On the other hand, apply firm pressure on the chest piece should you wish to use the “diaphragm mode” to listen to high frequency sounds.

Which One is a Better Option?

Now that we have clearly discussed the similarities and differences between these two types of stethoscope, we can now tell which among these two the better option is. If you are looking at convenience, obviously tunable diaphragms are much more convenient as you do not have to turn from one side of the chest piece to the other should you need to switch from one mode to another.

In terms of sound clarity, a tunable diaphragm still wins the point. Reason is, this type of stethoscope has the ability to amplify a better sound quality as opposed to any dual sided piece. Thus, if you are practicing in a critical field of medicine, you ought to be equipped with this kind of stethoscope. However, not everyone really needs a tunable diaphragm to be quite honest. The thing is, this type of stethoscope is actually designed to address the needs of medical practitioners who work with critical medical cases on a day to day basis.

When it comes to choosing medical instruments for work, you need to go with one that can help you do your job. There is no rule that says you ought to have this type, or you can’t have that type. Whether you go with a tunable or a double-sided stethoscope — it’s completely your call.

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  • Marina m

    Marina is an Emergency Nurse based in NYC with a passion for writing. With over 10 years of experience in the field, Marina brings a unique perspective to her writing, drawing from her experiences caring for patients in high-stress situations. Her work has been featured in several publications and she continues to explore her creative side through writing in her free time.

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