3M Littmann Soundbuilder App Helps Users Learn Heart Sounds

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Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Requires: iOS 3.2 or later

Purpose of the App Review:

  1. How well will the app teach me how to listen for heart and lung sounds?
  2. Are the nuances discernable between cardiac pathologies?
  3. Do the sounds in the app sound like the real thing?

Introduction:

Medical education has come a long way – but some things, especially heart sounds, remain forever esoteric for some of us. The developers of the Soundbuilder app hope to make the learning process easier for students, residents and physicians.

Soundbuilder was developed by the 3M Corporation, the producers of the ever-popular Littmann stethoscopes. The app focuses on learning common heart sounds but also includes diagrams and explanations of associated pathology.

User Interface:

Soundbuilder is an app that is very user friendly and opens with a list of the 14 heart sounds the app covers.

When the user chooses a cardiac pathology, the app advances to a brief description of the problem. It includes suggested stethoscope positioning, maneuvers and general pathophysiology.

The app includes a diagram of a thorax for every cardiac pathology that depicts the best location for stethoscope placement.

The user can visualize the sound with the use of the sound wave diagram. The sound plays as the vertical yellow line moves across the the sound wave pattern, stressing to the user when the sounds are most pronounced.

Lastly, the app has a moving four chambered heart diagram that depicts blood moving through the chambers. If there are anatomic abnormalities that cause a pathology, it will be able to be seen here.

Unfortunately, I was not able to recognize all of the anatomic abnormalities in all of the cardiac pathologies – the app would benefit if the developers indicate clearly where the anatomic pathology lies.

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Presentation in real life is very close to heart sounds in app
  • Easy to understand explanations
  • Sound wave diagram with associated heart sound help to round out understanding of pathology
  • Includes all commonly tested pathology – great review for boards and licensing exams

Dislikes:

  • Hope the developers add lung sounds (crackles, wheezes, etc)
  • Difficult to determine anatomic pathology based on moving heart diagram

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app:

  • Physicians
  • Medical Students
  • Residents
  • Non-physician providers (PA, NP)
  • Nurses

Conclusion:

  • Free app that has excellent sound bytes, easy to understand explanations, and clear diagrams of common cardiac pathologies
  • Diagrams include: diagram of thorax for each heart sound that shows best placement of stethoscope to listen, moving diagram of a four chambered heart that shows anatomic deformity causing pathology, and sound wave diagram which is paired with the heart sound
  • Includes high yield heart sounds and associated pathology
  • The app is produced by Littmann to promote their stethoscopes. Though there is branding and there are links to ads, it is not obnoxious and does not take away from the overall app experience
  • A nice addition would be if developers added lung sounds and revamped the moving heart diagram to highlight where the deformity is

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

iTunes Link

Rating:

  • Overall: 4.5/5 Stars
  • User Interface: 4/5 stars. Very easy to use. Highlighting anatomic abnormalities more in diagrams would be beneficial
  • Multimedia Coverage: 5/5. Excellent sound quality. The moving heart diagram, sound wave diagrams and stethoscope placement diagrams were helpful, easy to see and use.
  • Price: 5/5 Stars. This app is currently free.
  • Real World Applicability: 4/5 Stars. Great for learning and would be a great refresher, but it is not an app that would be used on a daily basis.
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