StethoscopeThe stethoscope was invented in 1816 by René Laennec after he felt uncomfortable placing his ear on a woman’s chest to listen her lung sounds. He discovered that rolling up a notebook could amplify the sounds coming from the heart, according to an article on the website of the Science Museum in London.
The rolled up piece of paper was soon replaced by a hollow wooden tube. Laennec, according to a
U.S. National Library of Medicine article, used the instrument to study sounds made by the heart and lungs; he made diagnoses that were supported by later autopsies.
The stethoscope was so disruptive because it moved physicians from trying to diagnose off a general set of symptoms. It was now possible to noninvasively listen to what was going on inside a person’s body and figure out what might be malfunctioning. Medicine was on its way to becoming much more scientific.
Modern versions of the stethoscope remain a ubiquitous tool of the medical profession.