Taking the stethoscope into the 21st century, 3M recently proclaimed the release of the 3M Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200, a next-generation diagnostic device. Supposedly, this device features bluetooth technology which wirelessly transfers heart, lung and other body sounds into a software for further analysis.
The company was believed to have partnered with Connecticut-based Zargis Medical in order to develop two group software packages solely for the Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200. The two companion software packages included the Zargis Cardioscan software and the Zargis StethAssist software.
Warren Wasescha, new products marketing manager, 3M Health Care stated that, “For almost 50 years, the Littmann brand has been synonymous with quality and innovation in stethoscopes. The introduction of the Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200 signals a new age in stethoscope technology that will help enhance clinicians’ natural abilities, and enable healthcare providers to confirm diagnoses and more easily gather a second opinion from colleagues.”
“The combination of the Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200 and the Zargis Cardioscan diagnostic support software arms clinicians with a valuable tool that provides results during the patient exam. The ability to record and automatically analyze heart sounds can help improve a clinician’s confidence, document complex auscultations, and may keep some patients from going through additional, unnecessary testing,” says Joseph Tartaglia, MD, a practicing cardiologist in White Plains, New York, and clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York.
The Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3200 is known to be a part of a line of electronic stethoscopes which also includes the recently introduced 3M Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3100.
John Kallassy, CEO of Zargis Medical stated that, “At a time when our nation is focused on leveraging technology to improve healthcare efficiency, this launch represents a breakthrough in computer-aided auscultation that has the potential to reduce unnecessary referrals, or help clinicians detect pathologic heart murmurs earlier in the treatment cycle.”
Even though the model 3200 appears to be the only stethoscope which utilizes bluetooth, both stethoscopes feature 24x sound amplification and the patent Ambient Noise Reduction (ANR) technology. This ANR technology is noted to reduce on average 85 percent of ambient noise which could perhaps obstruct with the auscultation experience.
For the purpose of better understanding this model, a series of three controlled experiments were conducted wherein non-electronic, cardiology-type stethoscopes were compared with the Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3000 Series. The experiments were believed to have followed three aspects namely to detect S3 gallops, assess aortic regurgitations and to identify lung sounds while evaluating the model. In order to detect S3 gallops, 191 cardiologists listened to pre-recorded heart sounds with and without an S3 gallop of two different magnitudes which were presented at random and in the presence of ambient noise.
The findings revealed that cardiologists seemed to have missed an S3 gallop by approximately 40 percent more often with a non-electronic stethoscope in contrast to a Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3000 Series. In addition, about 83 percent reported that it may perhaps be easy to detect or hear an S3 gallop with a Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3000 Series.
Furthermore, for evaluating aortic regurgitations, nearly 100 cardiologists listened to pre-recorded heart sounds with and without Grade 1 or Grade 2 aortic regurgitation murmurs which were offered in random order in the presence of ambient noise.
The results demonstrated that 82 percent of cardiologists seem to have indicated that it was easier to detect an aortic regurgitation i.e. Grade 1 or 2 with a Littmann Electronic Stethoscope Model 3000 Series as compared to the traditional stethoscope. Also, grade 2 aortic regurgitation murmurs appear to have been missed five times more frequently with the traditional scope.
“The studies demonstrated a clear benefit in the ability of electronic stethoscopes to detect murmurs and other sounds. The electronic stethoscopes in the Littmann brand of products not only provide enhanced sound quality but also reduce ambient noise, helping the clinician make an assessment with confidence,” says Ned Hancock, marketing manager, 3M Health Care.
In the third experiment for identifying lung sounds, 137 critical care nurses listened to, and were asked to recognize, prerecorded normal and abnormal lung sounds with crackles, wheezes or rhonchi which were presented in the presence of ambient noise.
The findings showed that nearly 90 percent supposed to have indicated that it was easier to detect or hear irregular lung sounds with the electronic stethoscope. In addition, sounds seemed to have been misidentified as normal or abnormal twice more often with the traditional stethoscope.
With stethoscopes supposedly going Bluetooth, we wonder what’s next.