Rene Laennec’s 235th Birthday
February 17, 2016
Rene Laennec’s 235th Birthday- invented the very first stethoscope!
Late in 1816, while examining a patient suffering complications of the heart, René Laennec’s memory of a stroll taken months prior came rushing back. Walking the courtyard of the Louvre that day, he observed two children playing with a long stick–one scraped it with a pin while the other listened giddily to the amplified sound on the other end.
Recalling this, Laennec rolled up a piece of paper and pressed it to his patient’s chest. The beating of her heart was suddenly audible and clear, and the stethoscope–an innovation that would fundamentally change the detection and diagnosis of lung and heart problems–was born.
After several prototypes, he settled on an instrument that resembled a long, wooden tube. Using his invention, Laennec continued his research on sound in diagnostic medicine and made several important contributions to the field. To celebrate what would have been his 235th birthday, artists Helene Leroux and Olivia Huynh depicted Laennec’s very first stethoscope beside the one we know today.
Happy birthday, Dr. Laennec.