First Stethoscope -Flute - DailyWearForMedicine.com

                                                                By Jennifer Niemier - MedBricks


Origins of Stethoscope
Rene Laënnec (1781–1826)


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For over 200 years the stethoscope remains a worldwide trusted medical tool of all time.  Dr. Rene Laennec, a renowned French physician, invented the stethoscope in 1816.  He was also a talented musician who played the flute.  He carved his own flutes from raw wood.  This skill was instrumental in designing the first stethoscope. 
 

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Before his invention, the only way to diagnose an ailment of the lungs or heart was to press the ear directly on that part of the body. This method is uncomfortable especially for female patients with large breasts. Rene came up with an idea from watching children listening to sounds traveling through strings.


In the summer of 1816, it was a quarantine of a different kind.  Not from a plague but from a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Mount Tambora, Indonesia.  The summer abruptly turned into extreme winter. Volcanic ash blanketed the sky and covered the entire northern hemisphere.  The largest natural catastrophe in human history.  


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The people in the northern hemisphere experienced illnesses like no other time. There were food shortages, freezing temperatures, and flooding. The health hazard conditions prevented people from going outside. During the self-imposed quarantine, the author, Mary Shelley, wrote the famous novel, Frankenstein, reminding the horrors of the time. She created a human character that turns into a scary monster.




The stethoscope has been improved over the years. After 100 years Dr. David Littmann of Harvard Medical School patented the new stethoscope that we still use today.  

Dr. Laennec died at the age of 45 of tuberculosis, the very disease he came to diagnose with his own invented stethoscope.  The darkest times of human existence during 1816, the year without a summer, inspired the innovation and horror of two iconic concepts: the instrument stethoscope and the novel Frankenstein.



Dr. Laennec’s story can inspire physicians to pursue other hobbies and passions finding new solutions to the present-day health care crisis.    

Innovations can arise from other hobbies and passions. 


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