When you go to the doctor, he or she will likely listen to your heart and lungs through a stethoscope. But with the creation of HeartBuds, the stethoscope may someday be phased out.
Developed by David Bello, MD, department chief of cardiology at Orlando Health, HeartBuds allow doctors to use a small, portable plastic listening device shaped just like the head of a traditional stethoscope. Instead of being attached to a Y-shaped tube that leads into the doctor’s ears, the device is plugged into a smartphone. When the doctor activates the app, sounds from the handheld device are played through the smartphone’s speaker and images of the rhythmic blips that correspond with the sounds appears on the screen.
This technology doesn’t limit these sounds strictly to the doctor’s ears as a traditional stethoscope does but it allows health care providers to listen to and discuss the sounds with the patients in real time as well as record sounds for future reference.
A recent study comparing HeartBuds to three other models that was co-authored by Julio Schwarz, a cardiologist at University of Florida Health, found that HeartBuds performed just as well as the more expensive stethoscopes in detecting heart murmurs and carotid bruits.
“They not only detect sounds inside the body just as well – or better – than traditional stethoscopes, but they are more sanitary,” Dr. Bello says. “And because they incorporate smartphone technology, we can now record, store and share those sounds as well. This could change the way we approach patient exams in the future.”