Stethoscopes are universally employed in clinical practice for the auscultation of body sounds including Korotkoff sounds for blood pressure measurement as well as sounds produced by the heart, lung, bowel, and other vasculature. The majority of stethoscopes clinically used today are still conventional (acoustic) stethoscopes - that is, they operate by direct mechanical transmission of acoustic energy. In recent years, however, technological advancements in electronic stethoscopes have resulted in their increased popularity among cardiologists and clinicians alike. This chapter will briefly address the development of stethoscopes and their general principles of operation, and then focus chiefly on electronic stethoscopes with regard to technical considerations, advantages over conventional stethoscopes, challenges involved in construction and adoption into mainstream clinical practice, and present as well as future cardiovascular applications.
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