Low-Cost 3D-Printed Stethoscope for Low-Resource Areas

Heart, Lungs and Blood Flow. The stethoscope can do it all, no wonder why it is the most widely used piece of medical equipment.

I don’t know about variation around the globe but here in the UK stethoscopes are expensive. The cheaper end of the quality spectrum is around £50, and I go through one every couple of years. I don’t know if that is a reflection on myself or on the quality of the product. The cost and accessibility means they are prohibitive to physiotherapists and medical professionals in low economic areas. I don’t think you’re going to go down to the local market or shop and find a stethoscope.

Considering the cost and difficulty getting one, for something so integral to healthcare settings, shouldn’t something be done to make them cheaper and easier to get?

Well, thanks to a team at the University of Western Ontario in the US a good quality stethoscope could become available for just $2.83.

Low cost isn’t the same as low quality.

Made out of recycled soda-machine tubing, 3D Printed Stethoscopecheap plastic for the diaphragm and 3D printed plastic parts, the team has created something which is not only cheap but works well. A validation study entitled: Validation of an effective, low cost, Free/open access 3D-printed stethoscope, was published in PLOSone a couple of weeks ago. Results were excellent and the 3D printed piece was just as accurate as a Littmann Cardiology IV ($190).

In terms of cost of investment the team report that a 3D printer costs around $1000, and obviously the printer can be used for printing other things as well.

The power of a stethoscope shouldn’t be under-estimated, I wonder what the team will design next?

low back pain physiotherapy guidelines

Stratified Care for Low Back Pain

In this short online course review and learn to apply the stratified care for low back pain and Patient Prognosis Subgrouping using the STarT Back approach.