Have you ever wondered about the genius that led to that invention? I doubt it. And I hate to shock you but it’s not as exciting as Edison discovering electricity. Or the mysterious genius that discovered the formula for Fufu. Or the horror behind the development of penicillin or anaesthetics (we’ll deal with those in due course).
Over time people have found ways to pervert the use of the stethoscope, such as listening for a heartbeat through the penis rather than the chest. But here’s the kinda sorta hilarious story of how the stethoscope came to be.
He was born in 1781 but who cares? Because it was not until 1816 that he finally became an interesting topic.
You see, Rene had a nerdy illness. He was extremely bashful in the presence of women. And the prettier the lady was, the more bashful he became. But in 1816, Rene’s painful shyness led him to invent a revolutionary instrument of medicine. The Stethoscope (or boob avoidance gear).
How’d he do it?
Well, a fair and bodacious maiden came to Rene’s practice seeking medical attention. While examining her, Rene had to listen for her heartbeat but apparently this patient of his had an extremely fine and braggadocios bosom.
What I mean to say is she had really nice titties. (I just want us to be very clear on that)
As of 1816, the practice of doctor’s was to lay their ear against the chest of their patients to hear their heartbeat. But Rene being the shy and gentlemanly type, absolutely refused to lay his ear against the supple milky white yet freckled breast of his patient. Yet, he still had to treat his patient.
So what did Rene do? According to accounts, he rolled up a piece of paper, placed one open end on his patient’s chest and then laid his ear on the other open end of the rolled paper.
Some say the inspiration for his makeshift technique came from the flutes which he was fond of playing.
After the success which Rene experienced with the rolled up paper which he found to be much more effective and respectful than laying his head on the bare chest of his patient, he went on to build several wooden hollow prototype instruments which would be attached to a microphone on one end and earpiece at the other end. He named his born-of-shyness-creation, “Stethoscope”. Derived from the Greek words ‘stethos’ for chest, and ‘scopos’ for examination.
It didn’t take long for doctors all across Europe and America to value the genius of Rene’s creation and soon they’d all accepted it as a necessary tool in their practice of medicine. Sadly, Rene died of tuberculosis at the age of 45 in 1826, but being aware of the importance of his legacy, he described it, “the greatest legacy of my life.”
Since Rene’s passing, other Doctors have contributed to perfecting the stethoscope to the familiar device we all know today rather than the cylinder created by Rene. In 1851 Irish physician Arthur Leared invented a binaural stethoscope, which fitted into both ears. The first commercially available instrument, was patented the same year by Doctor Nathan Marsh but it was too fragile to be used properly and marketed commercially.
The following year, New York-based doctor George Cammann successfully evolved the design for wider commercial production. His design consisted of ivory earpieces connected to a metal tube held together by a hinge. They were called Cammann’s Stethoscope.
In this age of sci-fi things, handheld electronic devices can now diagnose various conditions, but concerns have been raised over how hygienic these electronic instruments are. Can you believe there’s a stethoscope out there that transmits sound from heart and lungs to a smartphone app before being directly sent to a digital database?
What will those wacky doctors think of next?
And “Wow” that was boring. Thank you for sticking to the end.