An acoustic stethoscope has a chest piece and diaphragm that picks up high-pitched noises once it is placed on the body, and waves and vibration travel through tubing into an open bell. Discover how to listen to vibrations in the body with help from a licensed RN in this free video on medical equipment.
Hi, my name's Kayti Brosnan. I'm a registered nurse here in Austin, Texas, and today, I'm going to tell you how a stethoscope works. There's two different kinds of stethoscopes. There's an acoustic, which is what I'm going to talk about today, and there's also an electronic, which is not as common and it's not used on a daily basis by me in the medical field. So I'm going to talk about the acoustic stethoscope and the different parts that allow for acoustic waves to travel from the patient to our ears so that we can auscultate sounds. This is more of a high-end stethoscope using better products or materials. It's using steel and aluminum, and there are some basic components. The most important part or one of the most basic parts is the chest piece. This is called a diaphragm, and the diaphragm is going to go directly onto the chest. And this is going to pick up high-pitched noises. So once you place it on the body, the body is going to have acoustic waves or vibrations that are going to be captured through the diaphragm and it's going to travel up the tubing to the ear piece, which is what, obviously, we're listening to. We'll have this in our ears and we can hear those acoustic waves. The other side -- this is a dual; there's two sides. On the other side is an open bell, and what you need to do is open...there's a little piece that you just twist, and that opens the bell. And this is going to auscultate low-pitched sounds. So heart tones would be a good example of that. And when you place this on the body, the skin vibrations will force the acoustic waves to travel just the way as the diaphragm waves did up to the ear piece so we can hear. Another thing that I want to show you is the inside. This is...this is just a basic tubing that allows for those acoustic waves to travel up. There's nothing fancy, there's nothing electronic. This is all mechanical, which is the coolest part about a stethoscope is that it's all vibrations from the body going into our ears. And that's the basic way that a stethoscope works.