The oesophageal stethoscope is a great way to monitor heart rate and breathing during surgery. We use it during most orthopaedic operations that are performed at our practice.
What’s good about it
As sterility is critical during orthopaedic surgery, we have the whole animal covered in drapes. This makes the oesophageal stethoscope the ideal instrument for checking respiration and heart rate during the procedure. It’s simply fed through the mouth and down the oesophagus until it is in the correct position. It’s very easy to hear the breathing and the heartbeat so you can easily monitor the respiratory and heart rates, and instantly detect any subtle changes. This allows you to adjust the anaesthetic or administer medications to keep the patient stable.
Orthopaedic surgery involves a lot of drilling and is usually quite loud, so I keep the earpieces constantly in my ears to monitor the patient more effectively. It’s also a handy instrument to use during abdominal surgery when the suction can be quite noisy.
Prior to surgery, it’s important to measure from the snout to the chest to ensure the stethoscope is positioned correctly. We’ve had our oesophageal stethoscope for a few years now and not had any issues with it. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and easy to store. I really believe that more nurses should use them during surgical procedures.
What’s not so good
The only negative is that you should be careful not to feed it too far down the oesophagus and into the lung. That will create all kinds of problems but it’s easily avoided by simply taking a bit of care.