Stethoscopes are by far the most popular point of care device you’ll find a Nigerian doctor armed with – of course, with the exclusion of the ward coat. They require minimal technical expertise to repair.
The stethoscope is an acoustic medical device for auscultation, or listening to internal sounds of an animal or human body. It typically has a small disc-shaped resonator that is placed against the skin, and one or two tubes connected to two earpieces. A stethoscope can be used to listen to the sounds made by the heart, lungs or intestines, as well as blood flow in arteries and veins. In combination with a manual sphygmomanometer, it is commonly used when measuring blood pressure (Wikipedia).
The common maintenance needs associated with stethoscopes are replacement of lost or broken parts, such as diaphragm, tubing, and ear-tips.
Types of Stethoscope
In modern times, stethoscopes have gone beyond their acoustic description. They are now of varying types ranging from the simpler acoustic types to the more efficient electronic ones.
A faulty stethoscope is defined as one in which nothing is heard upon use on living patients. It is characterised by any of the following, and should be repaired as explained thereafter:
MISSING DIAPHRAGM: A common problem with diaphragm is that it gets missing or torn. You should make a make-shift diaphragm out of a piece of radiographic film or similar plastic sheet. You may also purchase a replacement.
SPLIT TUBE: No longer a common occurrence as newer stethoscopes are increasingly being made out of materials of greater tensile strength. A torn tube should be replaced in its entirety.
BLOCKED EAR-TIPS: Ear-tips may be blocked as a result of clogging or dust accumulation. Unscrew the tips, discard the blockage and clean with spirit.
And there you have your fully functional stethoscope again!