Use of your Stethoscope

Your 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope will give you many years of durable service, especially if you follow the care and maintenance tips listed below.
General Care
Your Littmann stethoscope is designed to provide years of reliable service. Routinely cleaning your stethoscope will ensure optimal acoustical performance. For more information, see Cleaning and Care below.
Optimizing the Acoustical Performance
If your stethoscope’s acoustical performance appears to be lacking or absent, try one of following:
Proper Headset Alignment: Littmann stethoscopes have headsets which have been designed to be worn at an anatomically correct angle, oriented toward the user’s ear canals. Before placing the eartips in your ears, hold the stethoscope headset in front of you so that the eartubes point away from you (Figure A). When the eartips are in your ears, the eartips should be pointed forward (Figure B). Not everyone's ear canals are the same. If after inserting the eartips in proper manner, the fit does not seem comfortable, and acoustic performance does not improve, grasp each of the eartubes, adjusting the headset for a custom fit. Improperly wearing the stethoscope headset can result in poor acoustical seal, and in some cases, complete sound blockage (Figure C).
Proper Fit of Eartips: It is important that the proper sized eartips be used to achieve optimal acoustical performance. This is especially true when using the soft-sealing eartips. If the soft-sealing eartip is too large for the user, the compression of that eartip while in the ear, could result in poor acoustical performance. This could also be true if the eartip is too small. Finding the individual’s correct ear size results in the best acoustical performance.
Check for Obstructions: If the stethoscope is commonly carried in a pocket, or hasn't routinely been cleaned, it is possible that lint or dirt could be obstructing the sound pathway. Routine care and maintenance can prevent this from happening.
Check the Seal: Stethoscopes rely on an airtight seal in order to transmit body sounds from the patient to the user’s ear. Loose parts in the chestpiece, loose tubing, or cracked tubing can prevent an airtight seal.
Index the Bell: When using a double-sided stethoscope, the user needs 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.
Figure A
Proper Insertion
Figure B
Correct Positioning

Figure C
Incorrect Positioning

Cleaning and Care

Your Littmann stethoscope is designed to provide years of reliable service. Routinely cleaning your stethoscope will ensure optimal acoustic performance.

General cleaning instructions:

  • Do not immerse your stethoscope in any liquid or subject it to any sterilization process. If disinfection is required, the stethoscope may be wiped with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution
  • Keep your stethoscope away from extreme heat, cold, solvents and oils
  • Eartips may be removed from the eartubes for thorough cleaning

Tubing Care

The majority of tubing used on Littmann stethoscopes is made of PVC (polyvinylchloride) which becomes hard when exposed for long periods of time to the lipids found in human skin. Wearing the stethoscope around the neck may cause stiffening of the tubing over time. If worn around the neck, we recommend wearing the stethoscope over a collar, away from contact with your skin.

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