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[Perspectives] To truly look inside

200 years ago, in 1816, French physician René Laennec rolled a sheet of paper into a tube to auscultate the chest of a young female patient with suspected tuberculosis. Laennec went on to make his first stethoscope from two pieces of hollowed wood: one was placed against the physician’s ear; the other, with a funnel-shaped cone at the end, was placed on the patient’s chest. Little did Laennec realise the scientific maelstrom that would greet this new diagnostic instrument, and indeed the parallels that could be drawn to the introduction of handheld ultrasound into clinical practice some 200 years later.

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