If you could get any stethoscope, which would you get?

I am a respiratory therapy student. My first stethoscope was a used Littmann Classic II SE. I found it to be not very comfortable. Also, something the previous owner did to it made it not work very well (something I didn’t find out until this semester).

The one I have now is a totally generic $35 stethoscope from my school bookstore. It’s decent but I’d really like an awesome piece.
I want to be able to hear everything, every little crackle and wheeze. I want to actually be able to tell the difference between diminished breath sounds and decent breath sounds (everything sounds diminished to me now). I can get by for now because my preceptor is always there to confirm what I’m hearing but I’ll be alone a lot more next semester and I need to be confident that I’m hearing what’s really there (and what’s not).
So, next week I’ll be able to spend up to $300 on a stethoscope* and I want to know what you like and don’t like and why, so that I can go into this a bit more educated.
I’m also hoping to get a student therapist job starting this summer so I REALLY need to actually be able to hear the damn lung sounds clearly.
*Last semester I had an opportunity to use a Littmann electronic for a few minutes and it almost brought tears to my eyes. But, I think that’s a bit excessive for someone who’s not actually hard of hearing.

I use a Littman cardiology III example. Much better than the Littman classic. I’m a big fan of the single tube one because the double tubes (like the HP stethoscopes) tend to make noise when they rub together. They also come in cool colors and ever since I got my burgundy one with my name engraved on it it’s never been stolen. Your best bet is to either go to a medical supply store and try out the stethoscopes or ask people to borrow theirs.

(When I was in med school a cardiologist told me that our Littman classics-which the company gave us free in the good old days-were good for only three things:

  1. Taking blood pressure

  2. As a reflex hammer when you’ve misplaced yours

  3. As a tourniquet in casr of emergency)

My first clue that my Littmann had a problem was when I absolutely could not use it for blood pressure. It had been given to my boss (at the shoe store) when she finished medical assisting school but she never used it and just stuffed it in a drawer. I couldn’t swap from the diaphragm to the bell, which wasn’t a problem. When I used a classmate’s Classic II SE, I realized just how horrible mine sounded. But, even with her brand new one, I still barely heard anything. I’ve decided that that particular Littmann isn’t going to work for me.

The Classic II SE was the one recommended by my school. They say it’s great for students and that there’s no need to spend more than that just for school. My feeling is that school is exactly where we should be hearing as best we can.

I love my Littman Master Cardiology. No turning the head around, just use different pressures to hear heart/lung/BP. It’s heavy enough to block out ambient noise. Well worth the price tag, around $180.

Don’t tease us, what exactly did the previous owner do to it? I’m sure I’m not the only one whose imagination is piqued!

IANAD but I would get a Littman in a fun color.

Oooo, the heads come in rainbow!!


I honestly don’t know and I wish I did. She insists that it was a gift upon graduation from medical assistant school but she has never worked as an MA so I can’t figure out what she could have done with it. She said it had been sitting in a drawer all this time but if she never used it, why even take it out of the box?
The only actual defect I’m aware of is something is broken in the head (or got stuck in the head) which prevents it turning from the diaphragm to the bell but since we never need the bell, this wasn’t an actual issue.

I suspect that something heavy was sitting on it or that it was kept in a strange position or that it was simply old without use and the tubes got stiff and out of whack.
I am eternally grateful that she gave it to me though. It was definitely enough for my first semester and at the start of the school year, I did NOT have the money to buy one, not even the $35 one I have now.

gigi - unless the one I ultimately choose isn’t available in a fun color, I’ll definitely be getting one. Actually, that brings about another question I have. I know the head can be replaced and the tubes can be replaced. Is it possible to buy multiple tubes and move the head from one to another so the stethoscope can match the outfit? :smiley: Or is frequent movement of the head bad for it? This is definitely not something I’m considering doing right now (and not just because my outfit is the same every day - green scrubs and white lab coat with white socks and white shoes).

I think you can probably move the tubes if you want but it’s a pain. I do know that when you send it in for refurbishing/cleaning they will send back a different color if you want. Basically, when they clean it they keep the head and replace everything else.