The stethoscope is one of the most commonly used devices in medicine, necessary for any basic lung and heart exam, and has existed for around two centuries. However, in military medicine, stethoscopes pose a particular challenge for military medics and physicians to use while in Tactical Evacuation Care (TEC), due to the unique, uncontrolled nature of the field. The constant potential for danger and unpredictable environments of loud noises and extreme climates pose new needs for military use that current stethoscopes do not address.
From interviewing military medics and physicians as well as civilian healthcare personnel in emergency settings, the three top user needs were determined to be compactness, efficiency, and functionality. The current tentacle-like shape and material of the stethoscope lead to frequent tangling and sticking to other items, which impedes efficient and quick usage needed in the field. Thus, military healthcare personnel working in the field have trouble transporting and using stethoscopes due to the physical form of the stethoscope.
With over 241,000 U.S. military healthcare personnel, there are many opportunities to improve care and save lives. We designed the Stealth-oscope to address the current issues through its unique extendable-coil design. Compared to the gold standard 3M™ Littmann® Classic III Stethoscope, our device reduces resting length by 71%, storage volume by 54%, and weight by 40%. Additionally, the coiled design limits the potential for other items to become tangled in the stethoscope upon retrieval, creating a more efficient care process. Furthermore, the design eliminates unnecessary cardiovascular features, and can be quickly extended and retracted, streamlining its use in chaotic situations. These advancements are present without compromising the pivotal sound amplification of lung sounds that standard stethoscopes provide. Due to these improvements, we believe that the Stealth-oscope will be the new standard for military combat medicine.