The 3M Littmann range of stethoscopes don’t feature any mechanical or electronic parts (excluding the Littmann Electronic 3000, 3100 and 4100WS of course!) so they should last for many years without any problems. You may need to change the rim and diaphragm every now and then and you may lose an ear tip in your bag, but other than that you should not experience any problems.
There are some basic guidelines to follow, and these will help you to get the most from your 3M Littmann stethoscope and help to prolong the life span.
Regular cleaning will help to give you optimal acoustic sound quality. Never put your stethoscope in any liquid (including water) and never use a machine or chemicals to sterilize it. If you do need to disinfect it, use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe. When cleaning, the ear tips, diaphragm and rim can be easily removed.
Make sure that the stethoscope is not subjected to extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) and keep it away from solvents and oils.
To get the best sound from your Littmann stethoscope, ensure that the ear tubes are worn at the correct angle. Before using the Littmann stethoscope, hold it in front of you and look at the ear tips- they should point away from you. When placed in your ears, the ear tips should be facing front (in the same direction as your ear canal). Not all ear canals are the same size and shape, so some minor adjustment may be required. If you don’t wear the Littmann stethoscope in the right way, this can result in either reduced sound quality or a total sound blockage.
Check that the proper size ear tips are being used. If you are using the soft sealing ear tips and they are too large, this could compress the ear tip, again affecting the sound quality.
Many people carry their Littmann stethoscope around in their pocket- this is fine, as long as the Littmann stethoscope is regularly cleaned as dirt or lint could be obstructing the sound from the chestpiece.
The seal of the diaphragm on the chestpiece is very important to the sound quality- this seal needs to be airtight, otherwise the air will escape. Regularly check your chestpiece to ensure there are no faults.
Simple things, like trying to listen to the bell side of a Littmann Cardiology stethoscope whilst the diaphragm is closed (and vice versa) will affect the sound quality. Always ensure that the side being used is open and functioning- simply twist the bezel if you are in any doubt.
The 3M Littmann stethoscopes are all supplied with a comprehensive warranty against any manufacturing defects:
3M Littmann Electronic 4100WS: 1 year warranty
3M Littmann Electronic 3000: 1 year warranty
3M Littmann Master Cardiology: 7 year warranty
3M Littmann Cardiology III: 5 year warranty
3M Littmann Cardiology STC: 6 year warranty
3M Littmann Master Classic II 3 year warranty
3M Littmann Classic II SE: 3 year warranty
3M Littmann Classic II Pediatric: 3 year warranty