René Laennec [(French: [laɛnɛk]; 17 February 1781 – 13 August 1826) was a French physician. He invented the stethoscope in 1816, while working at the Hôpital Necker, and pioneered its use in diagnosing various chest conditions.
He became a lecturer at the Collège de France in 1822 and professor of medicine in 1823. His final appointments were that of head of the medical clinic at the Hôpital de la Charité and professor at the Collège de France. He died of tuberculosis in 1826 at the age of 45.
Invention of the stethoscope
René wrote the classic treatise De l’Auscultation Médiate, published in August 1819 The preface reads:
In 1816, He was consulted by a young woman laboring under general symptoms of diseased heart, and in whose case percussion and the application of the hand were of little avail on account of the great degree of fatness.
The other method just mentioned [direct auscultation] being rendered inadmissible by the age and sex of the patient, I happened to recollect a simple and well-known fact in acoustics, … the great distinctness with which we hear the scratch of a pin at one end of a piece of wood on applying our ear to the other.
Immediately, on this suggestion, I rolled a quire of paper into a kind of cylinder and applied one end of it to the region of the heart and the other to my ear, and was not a little surprised and pleased to find that I could thereby perceive the action of the heart in a manner much more clear and distinct than I had ever been able to do by the immediate application of my ear.