stethescopeHeartBuds, a smartphone compatible listening device for cardiovascular sounds, works as well as widely used Food and Drug Administration-approved traditional and digital stethoscopes and better than FDA-approved disposable stethoscopes, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

An essential part of a physical examination is listening to patients internal sounds, made possible by stethoscopes. Researchers compared HeartBuds’ acoustic quality to three stethoscope types: a disposable stethoscope commonly used in hospitals to reduce infection rates; a gold standard cardiology stethoscope used by most physicians; as well as a popular digital stethoscope. Independent examiners used each of the stethoscopes to examine 50 adults and rated the devices.

Researchers found the disposable stethoscope was notably worse at identifying heart murmurs and performed poorly when trying to detect abnormal sounds in the neck that would indicate possible carotid artery disease. Researchers rated the HeartBuds stethoscope as comparable in sound quality to the more traditional and electronic stethoscopes.