Some tools and devices in a doctor’s bag are so commonplace they can seem pretty unremarkable. For example, the cardiology stethoscope is used so often that, alongside the white coat, it is the easiest way to signify a medical professional on TV or in a movie. It’s so familiar that it’s easy to forget the incredible role stethoscopes have played in the evolution of non-invasive internal auscultation.
The Importance of a Good Cardiology Stethoscope
Without non-invasive auscultation, diagnosing patients would be a time-consuming process that’s significantly less comfortable than it is today. A high-quality cardiology stethoscope delivers superior acoustic performance and diagnostic versatility so that doctors can differentiate between high and low-frequency sounds with a high rate of accuracy. High-performance tubing reduces noise interference and assures cardiology patients they’re being tested with the best.
As with all medical aids and devices, there are many brands to choose from. To help you find the best cardiology stethoscope for everyday use, we’ve compiled a top ten guide to the best products on the market.
Best Cardiology Stethoscope Reviews and Features
1. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope
Littmann’s Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope is just one of a range of advanced stethoscopes produced by the medical manufacturer. Many believe it is the best one yet, beating the Stethoscope Classic III and Lightweight II SE Stethoscope on noise isolation, diagnostic versatility and high-frequency sound capture. It performs particularly well in challenging environments as the hyper-sensitive dual diaphragms can detect even the most subtle signs of aortic stenosis, murmurs and other pulmonary anomalies.
Littman’s IV model has a double-sided chest piece with diaphragms for adult and pediatric patients. Both sides are tunable to allow for patient-tailored diagnostics. Plus, the device’s dual-lumen tubing is great at minimizing ambient sounds and friction. This stethoscope is responsive, reliable and more than capable of delivering accurate results in noisy locations.
- Performs particularly well in noisy spaces
- Two tunable diaphragms (adult and child)
- Next-gen tubing (no latex or plasticizers)
- Smaller diaphragm converts to open bell
- Tubing can feel tacky (sticks to small hairs)
- A little heavier than some rival models
2. 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope
Fans of Littman’s cardiology stethoscopes have spent years debating whether the Master Cardiology or the IV is superior. Doctors who love the Master Cardiology model say no other stethoscope can match its acoustic performance and praise its ability to auscultate awkwardly positioned areas and alternate effortlessly between high and low frequencies. The acoustical seal ear tips minimize friction and interference to an impressive degree. It allows users to identify subtle changes in patients even when the diagnostic environment is loud.
The Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope boasts a patented chest piece and tunable diaphragm. The tuning enables it to monitor all frequencies so there’s no need to turn it or add extra components. The stethoscope’s headset is lightweight and comes with a special procedures adaptor for auscultating children and patients with atypical body shapes. The non-chill rim increases comfort and the device’s slightly angled position is designed to reduce air leaks.
- Tunable diaphragm (no need to turn it)
- Special procedures adaptor for tricky diagnoses
- Acoustical seal ear tips for superior acoustics
- 2-in-1 tube design reduces interference
- Bell rusts when cleaned w/alcohol
- Noticeably heavier than rival brands
3. VITALWISE Heart-Shaped Rose Gold Cardiology Stethoscope
The standout feature of VITALWISE’s Heart-Shaped Cardiology Stethoscope is its cheerful design. On top of all the performance-related components you’d expect from a high-quality device, it’s got bags of personality. Not everybody will want a brightly colored stethoscope but this one has proved popular with pediatricians. Its unique heart shaped diaphragm is both attractive and functional. The heart is shaped to fit a doctor’s fingers and give them a firmer, more secure grip.
Another impressive feature is the stethoscope’s rotating ear tubes. They’re designed to comfortably rotate in the ears in response to a user’s movements. This prevents them from snagging and causing discomfort during long exams. And don’t let the device’s cheery demeanor fool you. Its acoustics are only slightly less impressive than the brand leader Littmann and that’s a big win. Users say it amplifies heartbeats, digestive tract gurgles, respiratory disruptions and more with the same quality as much more expensive products.
- Comes with a pink carry case
- Heart-shaped design that’s perfect for kids
- Adjustable headset to reduce tension
- Includes a lifetime warranty
- Diaphragm isn’t dual-sided
- Diaphragm/bell picks up scratches easily
4. ADC ADSCOPE 600 Cardiology Stethoscope w/AFD Technology
ADSCOPE’s cardiology stethoscopes are commonly touted as the biggest rival to Littmann’s high-end devices. The ADSCOPE 600 is certainly an impressive choice as it combines a bi-lumen headset with anodized aluminum binaurals made to enhance sound transmission across high and low frequencies. Its acoustic quality is superb and the silicone ear tips ensure maximum comfort even when used many times a day. The device’s headset is fitted with a tension spring to further reduce noise interference and recoil.
One feature that makes the ADSCOPE 600 great value for money is the manufacturer’s inclusion of free replacement ear tips. Users can request replacement tips and diaphragms for as long as they use the stethoscope. As the device’s stainless steel chest piece is extremely durable, it’s a warranty that could last a lifetime. The only downside is a slightly shorter tube than is typical which may make this stethoscope harder to wear around the neck.
- Customer service for a lifetime
- Adjustable frequency (AFD) for better acoustics
- Sculpted stainless steel chest piece
- Anodized aluminum binaurals
- Tubing is slightly shorter than normal
- Ear tips wear out quickly
5. EverOne Professional Style Cardiology Stethoscope
EverOne’s Professional Style Stethoscope is less ostentatious than the VITALWISE and less expensive than a Littmann. This device is all about acoustic performance. It doesn’t look like much at first glance but its design includes a dual-lumen tube to reduce auditory interferences and an angled headset for increased comfort. The headset has been shaped by experts to perfectly fit the shape of the ear canal and minimize pulling and twisting.
While the acoustics can’t compete with a Littmann stethoscope – few can – they provide great value for money. This cardiology stethoscope is great for doctors who perform occasional auscultations and need a sturdy, accurate tool they can set up quickly. Despite not being the market leader, EverOne’s device does have one of the best tubes we’ve seen on any stethoscope. The high-grade tubing retains its shape and flexibility even if it’s folded or compressed in a bag for many hours.
- Very strong and flexible tubing
- Angled headset for comfortability
- Great for all-purpose environments
- Dual-lumen design reduces noise interference
- Good value but can’t match top brand
- Acoustics not as good on larger bodies
6. Welch Allyn Harvey DLX Double Head Stethoscope
The Welch Allyn Harvey DLX Double Head Stethoscope is a little different from the other stethoscopes referenced in this guide. It has a trumpet brass construction which, according to the manufacturer, amplifies pulmonary, vascular and cardiac sounds without depending on variable pressure methods. The result is crystal clear acoustics which some say are even superior to Littman’s when used in noisy environments such as ICUs. It’s worth noting the device’s double-headed chest piece is made of higher density metal than Littman’s as well.
With a weighted brass chest piece, dual-bore tubing for clearer sound and rotating ear tips, there’s not much to be unhappy with there. The chest piece is a little heavier than expected because of the higher density material. However, the stethoscope also comes with a slightly longer tube. This should take care of any comfort issues for doctors who like to stow their listening devices around their necks.
- Long dual-bore tube for clearer sound
- Superb acoustic capabilities
- Tough high-density chest piece
- Triple leaf spring for durability
- No pediatric diaphragm
- Longer tube may be a poor fit for some
7. EverOne Premium Style Cardiology Stethoscope
EverOne’s Premium Style Cardiology Stethoscope is very similar to the brand’s Professional Style model but with a few key differences. For instance, the Premium stethoscope has a dual-headed chest piece with a tunable diaphragm on either side where the Professional has just one diaphragm. It means a user can listen for low and high-frequency sounds without turning the chest piece over. This is very useful for doctors who examine both children and adults or adults with a diversity of body types.
The stethoscope’s dual-lumen tube design minimizes the noise interference commonly associated with double tube friction. Doctors and nurses can rest assured that, no matter how noisy their exam environment, they’ll always get reliable acoustics. The stainless steel chest piece promises superior contact with the skin for more accurate auscultations. Plus, the non-chill rim ensures patients stay comfortable even during prolonged evaluations. If you’re looking for an affordable stethoscope with qualities that exceed its price tag, EverOne’s Premium model is worth a look.
- High-grade 27’’ dual-tube
- Chest piece designed for superior contact
- Angled headset ensures comfort
- Great value for money
- Acoustics not as good as Littmann
- Ear tips wear out quickly
8. Littmann Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope
Many doctors claim Littman’s Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope is the best stethoscope available so we had to include it in our reviews. Scroll up to read our thoughts on this stethoscope’s key features and capabilities. We’re giving the IV model another look now because it can also be bought as part of a bundle.
This value bundle includes the Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope AND Littmann’s Stethoscope Identification Tags. As well as the popular IV model, the bundle includes two ID tags and a flexible attachment that slips onto the stethoscope to hold the tag in place. One of the ID tags can be written on with a marker pen. The other is an engravable plate that cardiologists can have their name permanently etched into.
As any busy doctor knows, it can be hard to keep track of portable medical devices in a fast-moving ICU or ward. Stethoscopes are regularly lost or borrowed and never returned because they don’t have an obvious owner. With Littmann’s ID tags, it’s not a problem. Just write or engrave your name on the tag to create a fully personalized stethoscope that looks as impressive as it feels.
- Bundle includes IV steth. & ID tags
- Put an end to lost/stolen steths.
- Add style and personality to your steth.
- Mail order engraving service
- Additional charge for engraving
- Write-on ID tag may smudge
9. 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope
Littmann’s Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope is stylish, lightweight and much more impressive than its subtle design suggests. It’s a great choice for clinicians who need to auscultate in non-critical environments because it’s compact but made for heavy-duty use. While its performance doesn’t quite match that of the IV and Master models, heart, lung and bowel sounds are easily amplified without the need for variable pressure. The Classic III is popular with paramedics for its careful balance of portability and clear, interference-free acoustics.
The stethoscope’s chest piece has a double-sided head so users can examine adult and pediatric patients with the same device. Both diaphragms are tunable. Plus, the covering over the pediatric diaphragm can be removed and replaced with a rubber rim to convert it into a bell. Another bonus is the Classic III can be bought in over twenty different colors so you can personalize yours with a brightly colored tube or even a rainbow chest piece.
- Lightweight but very sturdy
- Comes in 20+ colors/designs
- Includes adult and child diaphragms
- Diaphragm can be turned into a bell
- Primarily designed for minor evals.
- Colored tubes fade if cleaned with alcohol
10. MDF ProCardial Core Cardiology Stethoscope
MDF’s ProCardial Core Cardiology Stethoscope was recently rebranded – it was previously called the ER Premier Cardiology Stethoscope – but not because it was lacking in popularity. MDF is known as the specialist’s stethoscope because it gets less attention than Littmann models but cardiologists in the know adore it. This stethoscope was one of the first to include integrated pressure tunable diaphragm technology, a feature that’s now common to almost all cardiology stethoscopes. It makes the device much more versatile as it can be used to auscultate both adults and children with minimal adjustments.
The ProCardial Core’s pediatric diaphragm can be replaced with a non-chill rim to convert it into a classic open bell for low-frequency auscultations. The device also comes with a dual-lumen tube for improved acoustics and more effective noise isolation. The stainless steel chest piece and binaural are impressively sturdy and the stethoscope has a safety lock to prevent its ear tips from coming loose and falling off. This is a feature we haven’t seen before but it eliminates the risk of interruptions during exams so it’s very useful.
- SafetyLock keeps ear tips in place
- Headset is pre-angled and tension adjustable
- Ultra-sensitive diaphragm picks up subtle sounds
- Includes a lifetime warranty
- Chest piece is quite bulky
- Tubing is a little shorter than expected
What to Look for in a Cardiology Stethoscope
There is no shortage of good cardiology stethoscopes on the market but they’re not all built to perform in the same way. When shopping for a new stethoscope, consider the probable frequency of use, the types of environments it will be used in and whether it needs to fit a diversity of bodies.
Here are some things to look out for:
It’s not always the case that big-name brands are superior. However, the stethoscope market does have some reliable giants. For many decades, Littmann has topped the list of most popular stethoscope brands. If you’re willing to pay premium prices, a Littmann cardiology stethoscope is guaranteed to meet your needs.
Littmann stethoscopes are among the most expensive products. If you want to spend less, consider an established brand with a range of models such as MDF or ADSCOPE. Some budget stethoscopes can be impressive but they tend to lack the features of midrange and premium versions. Budget devices are best paired with a more sophisticated stethoscope so you can switch effortlessly between routine and critical auscultations.
Price is closely tied with brand insofar as the more you spend, the better your cardiology stethoscope will be. Budget devices are suitable for some environments but most specialists require a high-level listening tool. The pricier stethoscopes have more features, provide clearer acoustics and tolerate more wear and tear.
Expect to pay between $200 to $297 for a high-end, top of the market cardiology stethoscope from a major brand.
Weight is often overlooked but it can make a huge difference to how a stethoscope performs from day-to-day. On average, doctors and nurses use their stethoscopes around ten times per day. Some clinicians perform as many as 15 to 20 auscultations per shift so a lightweight stethoscope is a must.
The average weight of a cardiology stethoscope is between 170 and 190 grams. Anything heavier than this could feel tiring to wear around the neck or feel bulky in a coat pocket. Although if you’re used to auscultating in one particular space and have no need to move around a large ward, a chunkier device may not be a problem.
Cardiology stethoscopes have a double or single-headed chest piece. A double-headed chest piece has a diaphragm on one side for listening to high-frequency sounds. There’s a smaller diaphragm or bell on the other for low-frequency sounds. On single-headed chest pieces, the bell and diaphragm are on the same side.
From a practical perspective, it means single-headed stethoscopes are suitable for adult or pediatric patients, not both. If a doctor wants to switch between adult and child patients, they need to adjust the chest piece using removable parts. With a double-headed stethoscope, this isn’t necessary.
It’s worth noting that most adults suit a 35mm chest piece. Most children suit a 25mm chest piece. There will be exceptions. If you auscultate patients with a wide range of body types, including very large or very thin adults, a double-headed device is the best option.
Tubing Style and Length
The standard tube size for a cardiology stethoscope is between 22 and 28 inches. Some doctors prefer a slightly longer tube because it feels more comfortable worn around the neck. Plus, a longer tube gives you the freedom to stand further away from a patient during auscultation. More distance may help you and your patients feel at ease particularly if there are signs of infectious sickness.
Dual-lumen tubes are so ubiquitous these days almost all stethoscopes have them as a standard feature. It just means two tubes are wrapped into a single tube to minimize noise interferences from the device’s materials rubbing together.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ:
Q: How does a cardiology stethoscope differ from a standard stethoscope?
Ans: No rule says stethoscopes must be used for specific types of auscultation. However, stethoscopes with dual-lumen tubing have come to be associated with cardiology and other forms of high-level medical evaluation because they provide clearer acoustics. Compared with single-lumen devices, twice the volume of airflow reaches a user’s ears making the sound transmission much stronger.
Generally, a classic or general diagnostic stethoscope has single-lumen tubing and weaker sound transmission.
Q: Do I need a cardiology stethoscope?
Ans: It depends on your needs. Consider the types of exams you’re performing, how frequently they occur and whether they could be made easier with improved sound transmission. Most cardiologists struggle to work without a cardiology stethoscope so they are recommended for sensitive and critical evaluations.
However, you don’t need to be a cardiologist to find these stethoscopes useful. Many EMTs, nurses, clinicians and even firefighters carry one because they appreciate the versatility and sound quality of these devices.
Q: What are the parts of a cardiology stethoscope called?
Ans: There are four parts of a cardiology stethoscope. The ear tips, the binaurals (metal tubes connecting the ear tips to the tubing), the dual-lumen tubing and the chest piece. Premium stethoscopes may have other features such as a name tag, removable ear tips, removable diaphragm membranes and more.
Q: How long should I use a cardiology stethoscope?
Ans: Cardiologists who use their stethoscopes very regularly should consider replacing them every two to three years. A stethoscope can last much longer but frequent use will degrade the ear tips and tubing. You will need to replace your device eventually but you can extend its lifespan by cleaning it often and keeping it in a box or pouch when not in use.
If the tubing on your stethoscope begins to harden and become inflexible, it needs changing very soon. Wearing a device over the top of your clothing, as opposed to against your bare skin will help it last for longer. Less oil from your skin will make contact with the tubing so it will degrade at a slower rate.
Don’t forget to change your device’s earpieces regularly. Overuse can lead to infections and poor quality auscultations.
Q: What should I use to clean my cardiology stethoscope?
Ans: The most effective way to clean a medical device like this is with isopropyl alcohol. It kills bacteria on contact and will ensure the stethoscope’s ear tips and other components remain sterile. The problem is alcohol is a harsh substance that can cause certain materials to deteriorate faster than they would normally.
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions to see if your stethoscope can be safely cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. If it cannot, use antibacterial wipes to clean the chest piece and ear tips before every new exam.
With proper care and maintenance, a high-quality cardiology stethoscope can last much longer than the manufacturer’s recommendations. The right device can become a treasured companion to a doctor or specialist who wants an effortless, reliable way to examine their patients day in, day out.
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