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3M Littmann: Navigating the Models and Styles

Rene Laennec, one of France’s premier physicians of the early 19th century, created the stethoscope in the privacy of his office in 1816. The good doctor’s first stethoscope was little more than a stack of thick papers rolled into a cylinder. His second version, however, was constructed of wood. Laennec invented the stethoscope to provide space between himself and his patients. The people of the era often carried parasites such as lice, and Laennec wanted to create a means by which he could listen to a patient’s heart without placing his ear flush to their chest.

Laennec’s device was largely ignored for the first twenty years or so. Then, around 1830, George P. Cammann of New York, adapted the design so that it channeled sound to both ears. After that, physicians the world over adopted the device. The stethoscope remained largely unchanged for over 100 years, until Dr. David Littmann made several improvements. Littmann added a space age, flexible diaphragm to the mix, as well as high-quality tubes. Tech-giant 3M was duly impressed with the design changes, and proceeded to buy Littmann’s company.

3M wasted no time bringing the Littmann brand to the world stage and today, 3M Littmann is regarded as the premiere stethoscope for students and clinicians alike. There is a Littmann stethoscope for every budget. Most Littmann models are available in these colors: black, burgundy, pine green, purple, ceil blue, lilac, royal blue, raspberry, ocean blue, Caribbean blue and peach. Additionally, 3M offers three metal finishes: smoke, black and brass.


Entry-level Model

The company’s entry-level model is the Littmann Lightweight II S.E. This sturdy stethoscope comes with a two-sided chest piece and is extremely popular with medical school students. The device has surprisingly high acoustic sensitivity for the price, and comes with 3M’s groundbreaking tunable diaphragm.

The Lightweight II S.E. also comes with these exciting features:

• Bell opposite the tunable diaphragm
• Littman Snap-Tight Soft Sealing Eartips
• Anatomically-correct headset optimizes sound transmission
• Headset is rated to flex at least one million times before breaking
• Manufactured in the U.S.

Price: Around $50


The premier model in 3M’s Classic lineup is the Classic II S.E. This mid-level stethoscope provides superior sound fidelity at both high and low frequencies and features a tunable diaphragm opposite a more traditional bell.

Here are a few additional features:

• Award winning ergonomic design renders the stethoscope comfortable through hours of continual use
• Listen to high and low frequencies by varying the amount of pressure you apply to the patient
• 3M Littman Snap-Tight Soft Sealing Eartips
• Special 40″ Educator Edition allows teacher and student to hear the patient at the same time
• Manufactured in the U.S.

Price: around $100


As a brand, 3M Littmann is best known for its Cardiology series. The stethoscopes in this series, and the 3M Littmann Master Cardiology especially, are among the best in the world. The Master Cardiology features a state-of-the-art single-sided chest piece that allows you to perform exams faster and easier than ever before.

Here are a few more features of this award-winning stethoscope:

• Handcrafted chest piece guaranteed to last for decades
• Rugged constructed can stand up to repeated abuses
• Tubes guaranteed to sustain more than one million flexes before failing
• Alternate between high and low frequencies by varying pressure on the chest piece
• 3M Littmann Snap-Tight Soft-Sealing Eartips
• Anatomically-correct headset guarantees a proper fit
• Non-chill diaphragm and rim
• Adapters available for special procedures
• Dual sound-channels in the tubes provide a buffer against annoying extraneous sounds such as rubbing
• Manufactured in the U.S.

Price: Around $200


Electronic stethoscopes allow physicians to hear the faintest body sounds, and the 3M Littmann Model 3100 leads the pack. This cardiology-grade stethoscope uses noise-reduction algorithms to help you isolate those faint but crucial sounds.

Here is what this stethoscope has to offer:

• Amplify sounds up to 24 times
• Easily detect S3 gallops, murmurs, aortic regurgitation and abnormal lung sounds
• Eliminates 85% of distracting background noises
• Weighs the same as a non-electronic stethoscope
• Lifelike sound reproduction
• Simple interface
• Two-year warranty
• 3M Snap-Tight Soft-Seal Eartips
• Manufactured in the U.S

Price: Around $300

Whichever stethoscope you require, you can rely on the 3M brand. The company is dedicated to research and development, and they only bring to market products they know can make a difference in a patient’s life. A stethoscope from 3M should last you decades, easily, so take your time and choose the model that is right for you.

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