(WOIO) - The stethoscope, which is on the verge of its 200th anniversary, is an icon of medicine. But new technology involving smart phones could be replacing it.
HeartBuds is a small device that gets pressed against a patient's body and relays information to a smart phone app. Vital sounds can then be recorded, stored and shared.
Researchers are excited about the advance. Medical student Ricky Patel, with the University of Florida School of Medicine, was part of the team comparing it to the traditional stethoscope.
"We examined four different stethoscope models, and we used them on 50 different patients, listening to their heart sounds, their lung sounds, their abdominal sounds, and also their vessels in their neck," said Patel.
According to researchers, HeartBuds picked up sounds just as well as the market's top stethoscopes, and better than disposable models. In fact, compared to HeartBuds, disposable stethoscopes missed 43 percent of heart murmurs and up to 75 percent of carotid artery blockage. Even more importantly, the opportunity for bacteria to nest in the earpieces of stethoscopes is eliminated.
It also allows patients with chronic diseases, like heart failure, to manage their condition from home. They can record their own sounds and send the file to their doctor.
"Within a few minutes, have it listened to, analyzed and have a report back from their doctor's office. That's exciting. That's the future of medicine," said Dr. Darwin Clark with Orlando Health.
Only doctors can use them to diagnose patients, but consumers have their own uses for them. Athletes use HeartBuds to monitor their bodies and pregnant women are now using them to record sounds of their babies in the womb to share with friends and family.