Celebrating the stethoscope...how doctors learned to see with their ears
The stethoscope is the badge of the doctor for the very good
reason that it enables them to see inside the chest. But of course the seeing
is done by listening: the doctors hears your heart beating and your lungs
expanding and contracting, and interprets their sounds to come to a diagnosis.
Doctors didnt always have this skill, nor this instrument.
In fact it was invented just 200 years ago, and we in Leeds are celebrating its
bicentenary. What the inventor, René Laennec, produced was very different from
the stethoscopes of today. He devised a rigid wooden cylinder which was
necessarily monaural. Yet Laennecs device was enough to make the interior of
the living body no longer mysterious but capable of being visualised.
University has a Laennec-pattern stethoscope (one of very few in the world),
and we will be using this to commemorate Laennecs remarkable breakthrough
through a series of events and activities.
You can read more about these on our web pages.
Jacalyn Duffin - The Invention of the Stethoscope and the Birth of Physical Diagnosis. Watch Jacalyn's brilliant talk given at the University of Leeds on 14 March 2017.
As part of our project we've been asking some colleagues and medical school alumni to tell us about their memories of using a stethoscope - these are our Stethoscope Stories...