How to adjust a stethoscope

Updated April 17, 2017

Medical doctors use stethoscopes for monitoring everything from heart rate and breathing pattern to blood pressure. Using a stethoscope accurately relies on your own medical knowledge but also proper handling and adjustment of the device. Stethoscopes can vary between basic and the more advanced electronic versions. Adjusting a stethoscope isn't difficult, but does require an understanding of proper form and procedure related to the purpose of the tool.

Loosen the headset by releasing the tension between the ear tubes. Place one hand on either side of the stethoscope headpiece where the cords join in a U shape. Gently pull each side back, releasing the pressure, and widen the space between the ear tubes.

Tighten the space between the ear tubes by squeezing the base of the headset. Use both hands and firmly grasp the base of the U, overlapping the ear tubes above and tightening the tension springs. Reapply the stethoscope to your head to make sure the fit is no longer too tight or loose.

Rotate the ear tubes slightly on either side to align the tubes with the stethoscope. Hold one side of the ear tube and twist it forward or backward, depending on which is most comfortable. Repeat on the opposite side.


Each stethoscope model is different; certain models may offer more adjustment options.

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About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.