Probably the one diagnostic instrument that is used by almost every health care professional around the world is the stethoscope. It was invented by a French physician, Rene Laennec, in 1816. The idea came to him one day when he noticed two young boys sending signals to one another across a long piece of solid wood and making scratching sounds with a pin. Dr. Laennec experimented with different types of materials until he finally decided upon a hollow tube of wood, 3.5 cm in diameter and 25 cm long. The stethoscope has evolved over the years as new materials were introduced but the basic concept of being able to listen to sounds from within the chest cavity remain the same.
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