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      After paying the outrageous costs of medical school, any new doctor would appreciate a gift of one of these stethoscopes as he or she begins a career of caring for others. We've also included high-end models ideal for currently practicing physicians along with a few that come in funky colors and styles, for those medical personnel who like to display some personality.

      10 Best Stethoscopes

      An Acoustic Tool Of The Trade

      If it's just about time for your annual physical or you require a trip to the doctor's office, it's likely that your doctor will use a series of tools to determine your current state of general health. You'll more than likely see your physician use an otoscope to look inside your ear canals, a scale to check your weight, a reflex hammer to check for neurological abnormalities, and a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat and breathing.

      It is the stethoscope that is most closely associated with a trip to the doctor's office, particularly for kids who need regular checkups. Regardless of the situation, the stethoscope is a necessary part of the medical tool arsenal that a doctor has at his or her disposal.

      The stethoscope is an acoustic medical device for listening to the internal sounds of a person or animal's body parts. This listening action is often referred to as auscultation. A doctor or nurse will often use a stethoscope to listen for abnormal rhythms of a person's heartbeat, breathing irregularities, compromised lung functions, intestinal noises, and to monitor blood pressure.

      Stethoscopes are composed of three major parts that include the chest piece, tubing, and the headset. The chest piece consists of both a diaphragm and bell. The diaphragm is made up of a plastic piece residing inside a silver metal piece. It is this silver metal piece that actually touches a patient. The bell detects sounds at low pitches, while the diaphragm detects those at high pitches. The tubing is usually made of a combination of sturdy rubber and metal. It connects the chest piece to the headset.

      The tubing is primarily responsible for carrying the sounds, detected by both the bell and diaphragm, directly to the headset. The rubber portion of the tubing connects to metal tubing closest to the headset, which ultimately directs sound to the doctor's ears. Eartips at the end of the metal tubing are usually insulated with rubber to minimize the impact of surrounding noise on a doctor's interpretation of the sounds he or she is listening to when examining a patient. Just as the eardrum vibrates when sound waves pass through it, so does the diaphragm on a stethoscope's chest piece. The vibrations move through the rubber tubing, through the metal tubes, and into a doctor's ears.

      The two major types of stethoscopes include acoustic and electronic. Acoustic stethoscopes are the most familiar and operate via sound transmission from their chest pieces. Electronic stethoscopes are capable of amplifying a detected body sound; they operate wirelessly, and can even record sound waves for review on a computer if necessary.

      This device makes individual body sounds easy to distinguish and it's not painful to the patient. Although the stethoscope is usually associated with the medical profession, it can also serve other purposes. For example, a mechanic can use the device to diagnose engine problems with an automobile by listening to the sounds of its moving parts. It can also be used to detect leaks inside of a vacuum chamber.