Real-world evaluation of the Stemoscope electronic tele-auscultation system

Biomed Eng Online. 2022 Sep 6;21(1):63. doi: 10.1186/s12938-022-01032-4.


Background: With the spread of COVID-19, telemedicine has played an important role, but tele-auscultation is still unavailable in most countries. This study introduces and tests a tele-auscultation system (Stemoscope) and compares the concordance of the Stemoscope with the traditional stethoscope in the evaluation of heart murmurs.

Methods: A total of 57 patients with murmurs were recruited, and echocardiographs were performed. Three cardiologists were asked to correctly categorize heart sounds (both systolic murmur and diastolic murmur) as normal vs. abnormal with both the Stemoscope and a traditional acoustic stethoscope under different conditions. Firstly, we compared the in-person auscultation agreement between Stemoscope and the conventional acoustic stethoscope. Secondly, we compared tele-auscultation (recorded heart sounds) agreement between Stemoscope and acoustic results. Thirdly, we compared both the Stemoscope tele-auscultation results and traditional acoustic stethoscope in-person auscultation results with echocardiography. Finally, ten other cardiologists were asked to complete a qualitative questionnaire to assess their experience using the Stemoscope.

Results: For murmurs detection, the in-person auscultation agreement between Stemoscope and the acoustic stethoscope was 91% (p = 0.67). The agreement between Stemoscope tele-auscultation and the acoustic stethoscope in-person auscultation was 90% (p = 0.32). When using the echocardiographic findings as the reference, the agreement between Stemoscope (tele-auscultation) and the acoustic stethoscope (in-person auscultation) was 89% vs. 86% (p = 1.00). The system evaluated by ten cardiologists is considered easy to use, and most of them would consider using it in a telemedical setting.

Conclusion: In-person auscultation and tele-auscultation by the Stemoscope are in good agreement with manual acoustic auscultation. The Stemoscope is a helpful heart murmur screening tool at a distance and can be used in telemedicine.

Keywords: Auscultation; Electronic stethoscope; Heart murmur; Tele-auscultation; Valvular heart diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Auscultation / methods
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Electronics
  • Heart Auscultation / methods
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Humans
  • Stethoscopes*