Richard Boyle, a bioengineer at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, has been working on a smart electronic stethoscope that may help clinicians recognize and diagnose potentially dangerous murmurs. Using advanced algorithms inside the device, the system filters out normal heart sounds from pathological murmurs, delivering to the clinician only sounds that need to be given more attention. At the upcoming clinical trials of the device, Mr. Boyle and his colleagues expect their technology will demonstrate that it can “repackage” auscultation and deliver a new powerful clinical tool.
“With a conventional stethoscope, it can be very difficult to hear the difference between an innocent murmur and a suspicious one. As a result, some cardiologists report that a very high proportion of patients referred to them are not suffering from murmurs that require treatment.
“The new technology could help GPs, hospital doctors and paediatricians isolate any abnormal sounds and help them hear more accurately whether a murmur is suspicious. The digital stethoscope can also be attached to a portable hard drive so that readings can be downloaded and sent directly to a cardiologist if required.
“The technology is designed to save time for both patients and doctors and ensure that if a patient does have a suspicious murmur, they receive further investigations and treatment as quickly as possible.
“It could also prove to be a useful training tool for medical students, who need to learn what to listen for. The technology can be used in order to provide additional diagnostic information, allowing an improved diagnosis of any heart conditions to be given, since murmurs can be very quiet and difficult to hear.”
Press release: Digital stethoscope to help doctors diagnose heart defects …