Introduction: The use of a stethoscope is essential to the delivery of continuous, supportive en route care during aeromedical evacuations. We compared the capability of 2 stethoscopes (electronic, Litmann 3000; conventional, Litmann Cardiology III) at detecting pathologic heart and lung sounds, aboard a C135, a medical transport aircraft.
Methods: Sounds were mimicked using a mannequin-based simulator SimMan. Five practitioners examined the mannequin during a fly, with a variety of abnormalities as follows: crackles, wheezing, right and left lung silence, as well as systolic, diastolic, and Austin-Flint murmur. The comparison for diagnosis assessed (correct or wrong) between using the electronic and conventional stethoscopes were performed as a McNemar test.
Results: A total of 70 evaluations were performed. For cardiac sounds, diagnosis was right in 0/15 and 4/15 auscultations, respectively, with conventional and electronic stethoscopes (McNemar test, P = 0.13). For lung sounds, right diagnosis was found with conventional stethoscope in 10/20 auscultations versus 18/20 with electronic stethoscope (P = 0.013).
Conclusions: Flight practitioners involved in aeromedical evacuation on C135 plane are more able to practice lung auscultation on a mannequin with this amplified stethoscope than with the traditional one. No benefit was found for heart sounds.