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How to Use a Stethoscope

5 tips to optimize performance and comfort

Tips for how to use a stethoscope properly
3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes are known for first-class sound quality and comfort. But there are some simple things you can do to ensure the performance and wearability of your new scope.

Align the Headset
Before placing the eartips in your ears, hold the headset in front of you with the eartubes pointing away (Figure A).

  • Once the eartips are in your ears, they should point forward (Figure B).
  • If the fit still isn’t comfortable, and/or acoustic performance is lacking, grasp each of the eartubes and adjust the headset for a custom fit.
  • Wearing the headset improperly (Figure C) can result in a poor acoustical seal and in some cases, complete sound blockage.

Get the Right Eartip Size
For optimal acoustic performance, it’s important to use the eartip size that best fits your ear. This is especially true when using the soft-sealing eartips. All eartips are available in small and large.

Remove Possible Obstructions
If you usually carry your stethoscope in a pocket or don’t clean it often, lint or dirt may accumulate and obstruct the sound pathway. To prevent debris from accumulating, give your stethoscope routine cleaning and care.

Check the Seal
Stethoscopes rely on an airtight seal in order to transmit body sounds from the patient to the practitioner’s ears. Loose parts in the chestpiece, loose tubing, or cracked tubing can prevent an airtight seal.

Open the Bell
When using a double-sided stethoscope, you need to open (or index) the bell or diaphragm by rotating the chestpiece. If the diaphragm is open, the bell will be closed, preventing sound from coming in through the bell, and vice versa.

Give Us a Call
Are you still unable to hear properly after trying these suggestions? Call the 3M Health Care Service Center at 1-800-228-3957. Or contact us for additional tips and techniques about how to use a stethoscope.

Proper Insertion
Figure A
Proper Insertion

Correct Positioning
Figure B
Correct Positioning

Incorrect Positioning
Figure C
Incorrect Positioning



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