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February 25, 1961


JAMA. 1961;175(8):706-707. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040080062019

A cylinder of paper, three quires thick, was the first stethoscope used by Laënnec in his examinatin of a patient's chest in the Necker Hospital in Paris.1 This remarkable contribution to the diagnosis of disease was conceived at the age of 35 during his first year of service in the hospital (1816). Prior to Laënnec, the examination of the chest utilized palpation, auscultation by direct application of the examining ear to the thorax, and the recently described method of percussion by Auenbrugger. The hollow paper cylinder was replaced later by a stethoscope of wood, concave on the examining end and fabricated of two closely fitted sections, so that it could be used as a short instrument or a long one. A flexible stethoscope was suggested by Dr. N. P. Comins in 1828 and by Dr. C. J. B. Williams in 1829. An improvement in the binaural design has been

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