There are many different types of stethoscopes out there. Some are categorized based on technology in which case we have acoustic and electric. Others are categorized based on age where there are pediatric, neonate, adults and others. However, the most common classification of stethoscopes is based on purpose in which case we have cardiology stethoscopes vs regular stethoscopes.
As the name suggests, The cardiology stethoscope is designed for use by specialists in the field of cardiovascular medicine and are known for their high-quality acoustics. However, cardiology stethoscope can also be used for all other purposes just like the regular stethoscope. The regular stethoscope is used for auscultation in all systems from the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to the gastrointestinal tract. Below is a comprehensive comparison based on design and functionality to help put things in perspective.
Read more: Types Of Stethoscopes
These stethoscopes are designed to listen to sounds produced by different components of the cardiovascular system. This includes things like valve activity, heartbeat, clicks, murmurs and flow and a lot more. The design of the stethoscopes also makes them better suited to distinguish unusual sounds for diagnosis of heart and vascular defects. Ultimately the cardiology stethoscope is built to provide a superior sound quality over standard stethoscopes.
Regular stethoscopes are more commonly found and are used anywhere. In the cardiovascular system, they are used, like cardiology stethoscopes, to listen mainly to heart sounds. They are also often used in the manual measuring of blood pressure using the sphygmomanometer method. Regular stethoscopes are also useful when it comes to listening to breathing sounds in order to assess lungs and airways.
The main distinguishing design features in cardiology stethoscopes vs regular is the difference in chest piece (head design) and thicker tube. The tubing is made thicker to minimize interference as the sound waves are transmitted between the chest piece and the ear piece. The thickness is also meant to promote amplification of the sound as it travels.
The design does not change much other than the length and the chest piece. There is also the classic design which features a double tubing. Sometimes both the parallel tubes tend to rub against one another causing additional distortion in the sound quality.
The chest piece of the cardiology stethoscope vs regular stethoscopes are one of the most distinguishable design differences you can see. The diaphragms on the cardiology type are usually made out of stainless steel or hardened plastic. This makes it a lot more sensitive and receptive to the vibrations of heart sounds. The piece is reinforced with a rubber or plastic rim to make it more comfortable for the patient while also isolating the heart sounds.
Most cardiology stethoscopes also feature a pressure tunable diaphragm which acts like the diaphragm and bell on the same side. This allows you to listen to different sound frequency by simply adjusting the pressure applied to the chest piece. This way you do not have to flip sides between the diaphragm and bell.
The chest pieces on these stethoscopes are made from stainless steel or plastic. Some modals are lighter and easier to use but much less sensitive especially to low frequency sound as compared to the cardiology ones. They also commonly feature the dual sided chest piece design using a diaphragm and bell.
Depending on the brand and model some tend to be slightly heavier. This is because of the stainless steel chest piece and the very thick tubing. Tubing lengths can vary between 22 to 30 inches.
While mostly similar in weight and dimension there are small differences between the both. Regular stethoscopes are normally lighter and longer than cardiology stethoscopes.
It is also important to note that while studies conducted by littmann have shown decreased pressure in longer tubings. However, the effect on the sound quality is too small to be noticed by the human ear.
In fact, the study pointed out that as tubing length increases the resonant frequency decreases. This means the added length actually provided better response to lower frequency sounds which is better for auscultation. Heart sounds can fall below 150hz which are considered to be low frequency.
Another added advantage of longer stethoscopes is you do not have to get so close to the patient during examinations.
Ultrascope Cardiology stethoscopes are 30 inches long and are known for their ability to conduct auscultations.
So here's the bad and the good news...
The bad: These can be very expensive and will cost up to $200 dollars. This is because of the specialized design, the high-quality materials used to improve sensitivity and sound quality. It might be a lot but it is definitely worth the investment.
The Good: However, the Ultrascope Cardiology stethoscopes are sold at around $100 dollars making it half the price of other brands and they are made in the USA. They also come with a lifetime warranty. Regardless whether you are a cardiologist, physician, nurse or a student, Ultrascope has made the cardiology range affordable for all.
Most decent regular stethoscopes fall within the under-$100 price range. This affordability is what makes them so popular among non-specialists in the medical field.
After all, is said and done, when it comes to cardiology stethoscopes vs regular, the cardiology stethoscope is without a doubt better than regular stethoscopes. They provide all the same functions of a regular stethoscope but perform better in terms of performance and acoustics.
One of the best cardiology stethoscopes on the market is the Ultrascope Cardiology stethoscope known for its quality and price. In addition to the many amazing features highlighted above, it stands out with the lifetime warranty provided. Checkout some of the customer reviews for the Ultrascope.
Regular stethoscopes may not be as sensitive but they are cheaper and effective too. Therefore, if you want a stethoscope for general examinations then you are better off investing in a regular stethoscope. In this case, stethoscopes from brands like Ultrascope (Cardiology stethoscope at the same price of regular stethoscopes), Littmann and MDF instruments are among the best.
This reps up our take on Cardiology stethoscopes vs regular stethoscopes.