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The stethoscope at age 200: Obsolete? Necessary?

The modern-day stethoscope, in the words of a colleague, "first came to life in 1816 when René Laennec, a reportedly shy French physician, encountered a plump young woman with an apparently diseased heart. As the story goes, he was too embarrassed to lay his ear to her ample chest, so... he rolled up a piece of paper into a tube" and took a listen.

The current issue of Stanford Medicine magazine offers an in-depth look at the medical tool and asks whether it's still relevant. The accompanying video, which features several Stanford clinicians, including physician-author Abraham Verghese, MD, also explores the meaning of this symbol of medicine.

Previously: Whither the stethoscope?
Screenshot by Mark Hanlon

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