Stethoscope Stories - Prof James Drife

Celebrating the doctors learned to see with their ears The stethoscope is the badge of the doctor for the very good reason that it enables them to ‘see’ inside the chest. But of course the seeing is done by listening: the doctors hears your heart beating and your lungs expanding and contracting, and interprets their sounds to come to a diagnosis. Doctors didn’t always have this skill, nor this instrument. It was invented 200 years ago, and we are celebrating its bicentenary. The inventor, René Laennec, devised a rigid wooden cylinder which was necessarily monaural. Yet Laennec’s device was enough to make the interior of the living body capable of being visualised. As part of our project we've been asking some colleagues and medical school alumni to tell us about their memories of using a stethoscope - these are our Stethoscope Stories.