How to Use a Stethoscope

How to use a Littmann stethoscope

Stethoscopes are an essential tool in many medical professions. They are one of the first tools used to assess patients’ blood pressure, heart, and lungs.

An enormous amount of information exists online to help students and professionals develop their ears to pick out specific abnormalities.

In this article, we’ve selected some of the best resources that we’ve found for learning to use stethoscopes.

If you need help finding a stethoscope to fit your needs, check out our article on the best Littmann Stethoscopes.


Stethoscope Theory

There already exists an incredible amount of high-quality information on how to use stethoscopes, so rather than reinvent the wheel, we made an easy-to-use database that helps you find the best information. Just follow the links to find infographics, audio-visual aids, and interactive quizzes.

How Stethoscopes Work – A nice overview of the different parts of a stethoscope, how to hold it, what you can do with it, along with some tips and tricks.

Listening to Body Sounds

Pulse and Blood Pressure

Taking Vitals with a Stethoscope – How to use a stethoscope to measure blood pressure and the science behind Korotkoff sounds.


Airmen perform flight medicine exams 120502-F-YG608-005
  1. Where to Auscultate – A poster that shows the different locations to auscultate to listen for heart sounds.
  2. Heart Sounds with EKG Visual – A list and description of heart sounds along with sound and an EKG visual.
  3. Explanation of Heart Sounds and Their Origins – Nine videos from Khan Academy on heart disease, heart sounds, murmurs, and other irregularities.
  4. Heart Sound Quiz – Choose the drill, listen to the sounds, and identify them. Four, 30-minute drills with the option to print a certificate of completion if you register. Can be used as continuing education credit for EMTs.


  1. Where to Auscultate – A poster that shows where to place a stethoscope to listen for lung sounds.
  2. Lung Sounds with Visual Plus Quiz – A course on basic lung sounds that includes a quiz at the end. Printable certificate available if you register. Can be used as continuing education credit for EMTs.
  3. 3M Littmann Stethoscope Basic Lung Sounds Tutorial with Quiz – Similar course where you can listen to lung sounds and answer a quiz at the end.


Assessing bowel sounds with a stethoscope has low accuracy, and treatment decisions should not be based solely on auscultation[1].

  1. Bowel Sounds with List of Sample Cases – Sample cases of bowel distress with sounds for all four abdominal quadrants.


  1. Breum, Birger Michael, et al. "Accuracy of abdominal auscultation for bowel obstruction." World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 21.34 (2015): 10018.

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