Discover 12 Common Tools Doctors Use (With Types And Usage)

Updated 30 September 2022

The tools that doctors use are an important part of health care systems, as they help in detecting diseases in a safe and effective manner. The healthcare industry has recently seen the introduction of a variety of innovative medical equipment. If you are aspiring to enter the medical field or want to know about doctors' work, it is essential to familiarise yourself with common tools for doctors. In this article, we discuss 12 tools doctors use, including their types and usage.

12 Common Tools Doctors Use

Here are some tools doctors use in their daily routine:

1. Sphygmomanometer

A doctor uses a sphygmomanometer, often known as a blood pressure cuff, to measure your blood pressure. To block the flow of blood in your artery, they put the cuff around your upper arm and inflate it as the doctor listens to the blood pumping through the artery. You can easily detect the pumping sounds through the gauge in the cuff. The systolic pressure is the first sound your doctor hears, while the diastolic pressure is the last sound. Different sphygmomanometers are available in the market, as medical gadgets have become more specialised.

Here are the three major types of sphygmomanometer:

  • The mercury sphygmomanometer: This is the most common type of blood pressure device, and most people refer to it as the gold standard in the medical field. Mercury sphygmomanometers consist of manually inflating cuffs that are connected to measuring units through mercury-infused tubes.

  • Aneroid Sphygmomanometer: Aneroid means without fluid, as this device does not require any mercury or any other fluid and is the safest substitute for mercury sphygmomanometers. Except for the stethoscope's attachment to the cuff, its recording techniques are almost identical to those of the mercury sphygmomanometer.

  • The automatic digital sphygmomanometer: This is the most technologically advanced sphygmomanometer design available. The device takes blood pressure readings using an electronic pressure sensor and displays the results on a screen.

Related: What Does A Doctor Do? (Average Salary And Qualification)

2. Thermometer

Another medical and doctor's instrument is the thermometer, also called a medical or clinical thermometer. A thermometer measures a patient's body temperature and indicates if it is too low or too high. Doctors can put the thermometer into your armpits (axilla temperature), mouth (oral temperature) or even rectum through the anus (anal temperature). A traditional oral or rectal thermometer comprises a sealed glass tube that contains a liquid such as mercury and a temperature scale printed on the tube.

The mercury in the thermometer expands and contracts as the temperature changes, forcing the mercury to flow up and down the narrow tube. It is necessary to shake the thermometer after use, to ensure the mercury settles at the bottom of the tube for the next use. To achieve a correct reading, the patient keeps the instrument in touch with their body for three minutes. An oral thermometer is usually more accurate than a rectal thermometer. Other types of thermometers include:

  • Digital thermometers: In a digital thermometer, a beeper signals when the thermometer has finished registering the temperature. These thermometers come with flexible tubes that resist breakage.

  • Ear thermometers: Eardrum thermometers are very precise and read infrared radiation that emanates from the eardrum tissue to measure temperature.

  • Basal thermometers: These thermometers measure minor changes in temperature in a woman's body to indicate ovulation. A woman's temperature may rise slightly when ovulation occurs and may not return to a normal temperature until the beginning of menstruation.

Related: How To Become A Doctor (With 6 Steps You Can Follow)

3. Otoscope

Another piece of equipment that has wide usage in health checkups is an otoscope. It has an ear speculum, which is a cone-shaped attachment at the end. Doctors use it to inspect the ear canal of a patient. They may look into the ear canal to see if the eardrum is red or if there is fluid behind it, which indicates an ear infection. A pneumatic otoscope blows a little amount of air into the eardrum of a patient to see if it vibrates. This eardrum vibration is perfectly natural.

With an otoscope examination, you can also detect a wax build-up in the ear canal or a punctured or ruptured eardrum.

4. Stethoscope

This is a frequent tool that doctors and medical teams use in their daily interactions with patients. Doctors use a stethoscope to listen to the sounds of various organs in the body, such as the belly, lungs, liver, heart and other organs. With a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer, a doctor can check your blood pressure. Both doctors and nurses can also use the stethoscope as a professional symbol.

As the stethoscope is portable, you may take it with you wherever you go. Some medical personnel's cars have a stethoscope in their baggage and require carrying it during their shift.

5. Ophthalmoscope

An ophthalmoscope is a very significant tool that a doctor uses to inspect the interior of the eye, including the retina, optic nerve and lens. A typical clinical ophthalmoscope, which you can find in your family doctor's office, has a concave mirror and a battery-powered light within the handle.

The doctor looks into each of the patient's eyes through one monocular eyepiece. This device features a revolving disc of lenses that allows viewing of the eye at various magnifications and depths. A patient may put eye drops to dilate the pupil and increase the entrance into the eye's inner tissues to enable a doctor to use this tool effectively.

Related: What Is Optometry? A Comprehensive Guide

6. Proctoscope

A proctoscope is a piece of narrow, tube-like equipment with a viewing light and lens. It may also include a tool for removing tissue for examination under a microscope for illness indicators. Your doctor may also use it to examine for rectum or anal disorders, check for abnormal barium enema results or investigate the source of rectal bleeding. A proctoscope is also essential for monitoring the formation of polyps (benign growths on the lining of the intestine) or checking for the return of rectal cancer after surgery.

7. Defibrillator

This is a medical and doctor use device for treating ventricular fibrillation. The defibrillator accomplishes this by sending a brief electrical shock through the heart, depolarising cardiac muscle and allowing the body's natural pacemaker to re-establish a normal rhythm. A difference in potential (or voltage) facilitates current flow via a pair of electrodes and electrically conductive gel. The gel minimises the inherent resistance of body tissues and prevents electrical burns. Traditional defibrillator electrodes are metal paddles with insulated handles, but some newer defibrillators employ adhesive pads coated with a conductive gel.

Related: What Is A Resident Doctor? (With Skills And Career Path)

8. Weighing scale

A weighing scale is a device used to measure the weight of a person and it is one of the more commonly used devices by doctors. It has two major variants, the mechanical and the digital weighing scales. A mechanical scale features a rotating dial, which indicates the weight. The simplicity and durability of mechanical scales are the biggest advantages of this machine and the main reason it is still in use in many health facilities and doctor's offices. The digital weighing scale is easy to operate and features a small LCD screen that displays a patient's weight.

An external source powers, most commonly a battery, powers the digital weighing scale. This tool can be delicate because of an active electric circuit. Weighing machines available in the market include capabilities such as the ability to measure height, body mass index (BMI) and other metrics. Special weighing scales for infants are available that measure weight differences of up to 10 grams and keep the baby lying down in the weighing tray without fear of the tray tipping over and hurting the baby.

9. Tape measure

Medical professionals routinely use the tape measure to test muscle function after an injury. Typically, as limb girth increases, so does muscular power and strength, but this assumption is empirical and may not be always practical. Besides testing BMI, clinicians now assess abdominal obesity in overweight individuals by measuring waist circumference. This aids in the identification of adults who are at a higher risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and anorexia.

10. Penlight

Doctors in many disciplines, such as dentists, general practitioners and surgeons, use penlight when evaluating their patients. Penlights are used to examine wounds, check the mouth and throat and monitor pupil response. Some penlights also include a tongue depressor to allow the doctor to examine the throat.

Related: How To Write A Doctor Resume (With Tips And Example)

11. Tongue depressor

A tongue depressor, also known as a spatula, is a tool used in clinical practice to depress the tongue so that the doctor can examine the mouth and throat. Modern tongue depressors are flat, thin wooden blades with smoothed and rounded ends. They come in different materials, including wooden tongue depressors that are designed for single-use because they are affordable and difficult to clean because of their porous structure.

12. Infection control equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is another name for this type of gear. Doctors and other medical personnel wear them to protect themselves against infection. Gloves, dust coats, coveralls and face masks are among the infection control items.

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