Since the invention of the stethoscope by a French physician in 1816, it has become one of the most iconic symbols of the medical profession. No other tool so strongly identifies doctors than a stethoscope around their necks.
But, after nearly 200 years of use, the days of the stethoscope may be numbered.
Last week, Jagat Narula, a leading cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, claimed, “the stethoscope is dead.”
In recent years, extensive use of echocardiograms (ECGs), the development of handheld ultrasound devices, and even smartphones have replaced the stethoscope. These smart devices have greater diagnostic accuracy and real-time results that save precious time and curb the money wasted in superfluous diagnostic tests and medications.
There are other recently developed technologies that may replace stethoscope as well.
Last year, the FDA approved the use of Eko Core, a new generation stethoscope that can be connected wirelessly to a doctor’s smartphone. Eco Core transmits the sounds of the heart to the smartphone app, which can then be saved as patient’s digital medical record.
In 2014, an Indian-origin 15-year-old inventor Suman Mulumudi and his cardiologist father invented Steth IO in Seattle. Steth IO is basically a diaphragm on an iPhone case that captures the sounds of the heart. His company, StratoScientific, is currently seeking FDA approval for the invention.