The global market for Stethoscopes is projected to reach US$495.2 million by 2025, driven by the indispensability of this iconic diagnostic device to medical practice coupled with technological developments and launch of advanced electronic variants. Hanging around virtually every physician's neck, the stethoscope is testimony to the clinical importance of auscultation, despite its limitations. It continues to be a trusted, proven and economical diagnostic tool and is a universal and enduring symbol of the medical profession. Eavesdropping on the noisy workings of the organs still remains the best way to examine patients. However, skill and experience of the physician play a key role in successful auscultation diagnosis. Reasons why auscultation is still an important part of physical examination of patients are many. For example, respiratory sounds like wheeze, rhonchi, crackles, stridor, egophony, bronchophony and whispered pectoriloquy can help identify abnormal lung conditions. Crackles can indicate excessive fluid secretion in airways and can guide physicians towards a possible diagnosis of a lung infection. Cardiac auscultation sounds like systolic murmurs, diastolic murmurs, continuous murmurs, pericardial friction rub can indicate abnormalities in valve opening and closure. Stethoscopes can pick up heart sounds which even echocardiography systems cannot. Auscultation of the gastrointestinal system helps identify abnormal bowel sounds made by the movement of the intestines. Conditions such as Ileus, hypoactive or slowed bowel, hyperactive bowel, and early bowel obstruction s are easily detected with the help of a stethoscope.
The market stands to benefit from a combination of favorable macroeconomic factors such as aging population, growing healthcare needs, increasing healthcare access and spending in both developed and developing countries; growth in physician clinics and practice; changing roles of frontline healthcare workers coupled with the expanding base of healthcare workers comprising critical care nurses, emergency medical technicians, general practitioners, medical students, pediatric specialists, registered nurses. Continued enhancements in stethoscope design and acoustic performance will also help spur gains in growth. Improving stethoscope acoustics remains the guiding goal and objective of all product R&D efforts and recent advancements worthy of note include amplified sound output; improved frequency range; and external noise cancellation technology. Digital stethoscopes especially are gaining in popularity in the field of cardiology and pulmonary. A key benefit of these stethoscopes is their ability to detect and record cardiac murmurs as low as 8 Khz. Focus on computer aided diagnosis is driving demand for digital stethoscopes with external flash memory chips for visualization of real-time recorded audio waveforms. Manual and mechanical stethoscopes will however continue to dominate the market, driven by their huge popularity among medical practitioners worldwide. A key trend in the market is the rise of disposable stethoscopes against a backdrop of growing concerns over stethoscope as intra-hospital carriers of pathogenic infections. The United States and Europe represent large markets worldwide with a combined share of 60.8% of the market. China ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 6.9% over the analysis period supported by rapidly developing physician practices; growing per capita healthcare spending; strong physician confidence in the tried and tested reliability of stethoscopes; availability of stethoscopes in a wide variety of styles, designs and colors; and launch of specialized stethoscopes for virtually every branch of medicine such as pediatric, cardiology, obstetrics, pulmonary assessment etc.
Competitors identified in this market include, among others, 3M, American Diagnostic Corporation, Cardionics Inc., Contec Medical Systems Co. Ltd., ERKA, GF Health Products Inc., HEINE Optotechnik GmbH & Co. KG, MDF Instruments, Medline Industries Inc., Rudolf Riester GmbH, Suzuken Co., Ltd., Welch Allyn Inc., Yuwell-Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply Co. Ltd.