3M Littmann CORE Digital Stethoscope Review

3M Littman Core stethoscope

Eko and 3M Littmann have joined forces to deliver a cardiology-grade digital stethoscope that offers the best of analog and digital worlds. Just press on the toggle to switch to digital mode and benefit from the amplified listening modes, active noise canceling, and connect to the Eko software on a tablet or smartphone. Up to 120 seconds of phonograms can be recorded for easy annotation and sharing. With a battery life of up to 8 hours of continuous use, the 3M Littmann CORE Digital offers all you can expect from a premium smart stethoscope. Without a doubt, the best electronic stethoscope currently available on the market. At $350, it does not come cheap, but considering the price of a high-quality 3M Littmann cardiology-grade stethoscope, the extra digital expense is, in our opinion, money well invested.

Digital Stethoscope by 3M Littmann Core

4.5 stars

Price when reviewed: $345.95

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From the piece of hollow wood used by the shy Dr. Laennec in 1816, who did not feel comfortable putting his ear on a young girl, stethoscopes have come a long way. Harvard Professor David Littmann introduced a game-changer stethoscope with improved acoustic capabilities in the 1960s. 3M Littmann is famous for producing high-quality stethoscopes and partnered with Eko to bring the 3M Littmann CORE Digital Stethoscope to the market. We consider it to be the current best electronic stethoscope available.

Both an analog and a digital stethoscope

Included in the box, you will find the electronic stethoscope, of course, a set of small size earpieces, the instruction manual, and the mini USB charging cable. One full charge will provide up to 8 hours of continuous use equivalent to several typical usage days. The 3M Littman CORE Digital will automatically turn off to preserve the battery life.

The 3M Littmann CORE offers a dual-sided chest piece with a tunable diaphragm. The pediatric side is convenient for thin patients or for listening to the carotids. With a weight just north of one pound (1.04 pounds), it can be comfortably carried all day long without noticing the electronic attachment’s extra weight.

Toggling the button on the electronic part, you can benefit from the best of both worlds using the amplification or the analog mode. The volume of the amplification can also be tuned to your requirements using the knob. It offers a 40x amplification at peak.

The active noise cancellation reduces the surrounding noise using the same principle as for noise-canceling headphones by picking up low-frequency sound and injecting an inverted 180° phase signal to reduce background noise dramatically.

To hear low-frequency sounds, press the chest piece gently, while high-frequency sounds will require applying a little more pressure.

The audio quality is what you can expect from an FDA cleared 3M Littmann high-quality cardiology stethoscope.

Automatic recordings with the Eko Software

Apart from being an excellent analog stethoscope, the EKO CORE attachment brings a new dimension to the analysis of auscultation sounds.

The stethoscope pairs with Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices. It works with Eko Software and allows to save and annotate 15, 30, 60, or 120-second recordings in a HIPAA compliant platform.

For students, It helps create a library of heart sounds. It allows for practitioners to record the patient’s phonocardiograms for following the disease’s evolution or sharing the data by email to a colleague to get a second opinion.

The electronic attachment allows using the stethoscope independently of the tubing and ear-pieces. Just disconnect the tubes and leave only the digital extension and chest pieces. The sonogram will appear on the phone or tablet. It can be handy for telehealth, when wearing protective equipment, or for physicians using hearing aids that cannot comfortably wear the ear-pieces.

Artificial Intelligence and real-time analysis

Heart Sound waveforms can be visualized and analyzed in real-time. Eko offers several plans to benefit from real-time analyses powered by Artificial Intelligence.

The 3M Littmann CORE Digital stethoscope already comes with the Essentials Plan to visualize sounds and ECG, record, save and share the phonograms and benefit from a HIPAA dashboard.

The Pro Plan adds FDA-cleared AI analysis algorithms to identify Atrial Fibrillation, Heart Murmurs, Tachycardia, and Bradycardia. The Artificial Intelligence algorithm was trained on real-world heart sounds validated by clinical studies, hence its FDA clearance. This plan can help family doctors benefit from a cardiologist’s expertise while doing routine examinations. The Pro Plan starts at $60 for a monthly payment and $50 when billed yearly.

The Pro Telehealth plan starts at $200/mo and is well suited for rural clinics. It offers the same AI detection benefits but allows to perform wireless auscultation and ECG. Videoconferencing and sharing tools are conveniently built in a single app. By delivering exams remotely and storing the results on a HIPAA compliant and SOC 2 certified platforms, high telehealth examinations can be safely provided.

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