1. How important are air leaks at either the earpiece changeover valve or chest piece?
ANS: The greatest impairment of the efficiency of a stethoscope is the air leak. Room noise due to air leaks tends to mask high frequencies more than low ones.
2. How can you test for air leaks at the chest piece or changeover valve?
ANS: a. Blow into one tube while occluding the opposite earpiece and tubing. Your fingers will feel the air escaping. b. If withdrawing the chest piece quickly from the precordium produces a change in pressure that is painful to the ear, an air leak, if present, is probably unimportant.
3. Why may small ear tips become partially obstructed when being inserted into the ear?
ANS: The usual stethoscope headpieces are designed to point the ear tips slightly anteriorly. If the ear tips are too small, their aperture may impinge partially or completely against the cartilaginous meatus, which points backward.
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