Miniaturization and digital techniques have resulted in the development of high-resolution, battery-powered personal ultrasound devices with excellent grey-scale and color blood flow imaging capabilities. These devices are appropriately called "ultrasound stethoscopes" and are practical to use. They extend our physical perception during a clinical examination by "seeing the invisible pathology" and allow the user to address specific clinical problems anywhere at the point-of-care. Murmurs and abnormal precordial movements can be directly related to cardiac structural, functional, and flow abnormalities. A cardiac abnormality (pericardial effusion, dilated heart, valvular disease, mass lesion) is rapidly confirmed during the clinical examination and often a specific diagnosis is made. The device can effectively assist in the initial evaluation and rapid diagnosis of potentially life-threatening conditions or in situations where quick decision-making is essential. Overall, they strengthen our clinical diagnostic accuracy and also add quantitative information. The ultrasound stethoscope allows rapid screening for left ventricular dysfunction and occult aortic abdominal aneurysm and left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with hypertension. Training may become an important issue and should focus on criteria of normalcy and identifying specific and major cardiac disorders. There is no doubt, however, that these devices will revolutionize the physical cardiac examination and diagnosis.

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European Journal of Internal Medicine
Department of Cardiology

Roelandt, J. (2004). Ultrasound stethoscopy. European Journal of Internal Medicine (Vol. 15, pp. 337–347). doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2004.08.002