Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/505

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EVOLUTION OF THE STETHOSCOPE.

fossilized curiosities, the relics of former ages, on the antiquated shelves of some very old medical practitioner. The stethoscope, as you know, was invented by Laennec. He relates how in the year 1816 he happened to recollect a well-known fact in acoustics of solid bodies conveying sound, and he goes on to say: "Immediately on this suggestion I rolled a quire of paper into a kind of cylinder and applied one end of it to the region of the heart and the other to my ear, and was not a little surprised and pleased to find that I could thereby perceive the action of the heart in a manner much more clear than by the application of the ear. . . . The first instrument which I used was a cylinder of paper formed of three quires completely rolled together and kept in shape by paste." Laennec then goes on to describe how he copied this roll of paper in wood, metals, glass, and other substances, and finally he says: "In consequence of these various experiments I now employ a cylinder of wood an inch and a half in diameter and a foot long, perforated longitudinally by a bore three lines wide and hollowed out into a funnel-shape to the depth of an inch and a half at one of its extremities. It is divided into two portions, partly for the convenience of carriage and partly to permit its being used of half the usual length. The instrument in this form—that is, with the funnel-shaped extremity—is used in exploring the respiration and rattle; when applied to the exploration of the heart and the voice, it is converted into a simple tube with thick sides, by inserting into its excavated extremity a stopper or plug traversed by a small aperture and accurately adjusted to the excavation. This instrument I have denominated the stethoscope."

Fig. 1 represents Laennec's roll of paper, and Figs. 2 and 3 the copy of this in wood as he describes. The latter figure is drawn from an instrument kindly given me by Dr. Galton, of Norwood, being the stethoscope long used by his father. It does not separate into two

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Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3. Fig. 4. Fig. 5.

pieces, but contains the plug which can be removed so as to leave the end hollow. Fig. 4 is the same instrument with the sides cut out to make it lighter and more elegant, the ear-piece being the same as before, and the mouth also hollowed out. This was the stethoscope used and recommended by the late Dr. Hughes. By making the in-