Are stethoscopes becoming extinct?

A stethoscope seems like the main tool a doctor uses. But this image may soon turn into a distant memory as stethoscopes are slowly replaced by pocket-sized ultrasound machines.

About the size and look of a smartphone, the ultrasound devices take stethoscopes to a whole new level. According to the journal Global Heart, these machines can look at the heart and other organs, lowering misdiagnoses and increasing early detection of health problems. The devices could also create longer check-ups so a doctor has more time to talk with their patient.

So why aren’t these devices widespread already? First off, they’re pricey: One device can cost up to $10,000. Second, this technology is fairly new. Doctors who’ve been practicing with stethoscopes for decades are unlikely to switch over to ultrasound machines. Their use will likely become more prevalent with young generations of doctors-in-training who are already learning how to use these devices while in medical school.

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