Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech rivals pose a threat

CHICAGO (AP) — The most iconic medical tool is facing an uncertain prognosis.

Stethoscopes have been around for 200 years, but now high-tech rivals are challenging their relevance. These include hand-held devices that rely on ultrasound technology, artificial intelligence and smartphone apps instead of doctors’ ears.

Some can yield images of beating hearts or create electrocardiogram graphs.

Proponents say they’re nearly as simple to use as stethoscopes, though thousands of dollars more expensive.

U.S. medical schools typically present incoming students with a white coat and stethoscope, but many are also teaching the newer technology.

At Indiana University School of Medicine, one of the nation’s largest, Dr. Paul Wallach is a fan of both. He says within 10 years, doctors will have ultrasound devices in their pockets and stethoscopes still around their necks.

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