Objectives: The ability to auscultate during air medical transport is compromised by high ambient-noise levels. The aim of this study was to assess the capabilities of a traditional and an electronic stethoscope (which is expected to amplify sounds and reduce ambient noise) to assess heart and breath sounds during medical transport in a Boeing C135.
Methods: We tested one model of a traditional stethoscope (3MTM Littmann Cardiology IIITM) and one model of an electronic stethoscope (3MTM Littmann Stethoscope Model 3000). We studied heart and lung auscultation during real medical evacuations aboard a medically configured C135. For each device, the quality of auscultation was described using a visual rating scale (ranging from 0 to 100 mm, 0 corresponding to "I hear nothing," 100 to "I hear perfectly"). Comparisons were accomplished using a t-test for paired values.
Results: A total of 36 comparative evaluations were performed. For cardiac auscultation, the value of the visual rating scale was 53 ± 24 and 85 ± 11 mm, respectively, for the traditional and electronic stethoscope (paired t-test: P = .0024). For lung sounds, quality of auscultation was estimated at 27 ± 17 mm for traditional stethoscope and 68 ± 13 for electronic stethoscope (paired t-test: P = .0003). The electronic stethoscope was considered to be better than the standard model for hearing heart and lung sounds.
Conclusion: Flight practitioners involved in air medical evacuation in the C135 aircraft are better able to practice auscultation with this electronic stethoscope than with a traditional one.
Copyright © 2011 Air Medical Journal Associates. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.