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Types of diagnostic medical devices

Diagnostic medical devices are used in healthcare to identify the nature or cause of any medical conditions. Various medical diagnostic equipment is used that enable or aid diagnostic procedures. The information required for diagnosing the patient is usually gathered from their medical history and physical examination.

The examination to be carried out makes use of these diagnostic medical devices.

In this article, we will explore some types of diagnostic medical devices used by healthcare professionals to examine and treat patients accordingly.

Types of diagnostic medical devices:


The Stethoscope is the most recognizable and commonly used medical equipment made up typically of a small disc-shaped resonator that is placed against the skin, with either one or two tubes connected to two earpieces by doctors and other practitioners to listen closely to the sound of heartbeats, the lungs and also the way blood flows in the arteries and veins of the patient.

  • It is also used as a combination while monitoring blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer.

  • Stethoscope uses:

  • It can be used to detect heart failures.

  • It can be used to determine lung sounds.

  • It can detect heart valve issues.

  • It can detect bruits (soft whooshing sound that occurs in the blood when it passes through the artery).


Thermometer is the most common medical diagnostic instrument that most people have at their home. It is a mechanical or electrical device in general used to check human or animal body temperature.

It consists of a sealed glass tube that contains a column of liquid, usually mercury.

This liquid expands when heated and contracts when it is cooled, the rise and fall of liquid occurs as the temperature changes.

Types of thermometers:

  • Digital

  • Tympanic

  • Infrared

  • Strip type

  • Mercury

  • Clinical

  • Laboratory


Electrocardiogram allows us to see the electrical activity of the heart. The common, painless, and non-invasive procedure used to quickly detect heart issues. It cannot be used at home; you need to visit a doctor's clinic or hospital room.

ECG is also used if you are having the following symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, rapid pulse, or shortness of breath.

It is recorded to study the following parameters:

  • To identify cardiac rate.

  • To study the anatomical structure of the heart.

  • To check the influence of various drugs.

  • It helps determine heart arrhythmias, heart attack sites, myocardial ischemia, electrolyte imbalance and structural abnormalities.

Pulse oximeter

It is an oximeter that provides accurate blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate reading. It is also considered a painless, non-invasive, and self-monitoring device used routinely, from regular physicals to surgery.

It is a small electronic device clipped onto a part of the body, usually a fingertip. The device emits light that passes through the finger and on the other side of the finger, the sensor detects and measures the amount of light, passing through the finger without getting absorbed by the tissue and blood. The device then uses that measurement to calculate the oxygen saturation of the blood.


  • Measures oxygen saturation in a patient's blood.

  • Used to determine delivery of oxygen to peripheral tissues.

  • Used to monitor patients on certain medications which may reduce respiration.

There are various forms including fingertip, handheld, benchtop, or wearable oximeters.

Blood Pressure meter (Sphygmomanometer)

A Sphygmomanometer, a blood pressure meter, also referred to as a sphygmometer, is used to measure blood pressure to determine the overall health of the patient.

Blood pressure is generally reported in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

It consists of a cuff (used to temporarily stop blood flow), a valve (lets air out of the cuff, allowing it to deflate), a dial (used to read blood pressure), and a pump (inflates the cuff to stop blood flow).

It helps diagnose:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

  • Diabetes

  • Arterial plaque


Glucometer is a medical device used for determining the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood.

It is measured by obtaining a small drop of blood by pricking the skin and it is placed on a test strip so that the meter can read it.

It is used mostly by patients suffering from diabetes.

Ultrasound machine

Ultrasound machines are the most widely used imaging technology worldwide.

A basic ultrasound machine has the following parts:

Transducer probe, Central Processing Unit (CPU), display, transducer pulse controls, keyboard/cursor, disc storage device, and printer.

It is used to monitor an unborn baby.

It can help assess joint inflammation.

It can also help diagnose pain, swelling, and infection inside the body.


Otoscope is a primary tool used which has a beam of light to help assess the condition of the external auditory canal (EAC) and the ear drum.

It consists of a head that has light together with the magnifying lens and the part which is inserted by the physician into the patient's ear is known as the disposable speculum.

It helps diagnose:

  • Otitis media

  • Otitis externa

  • Causes of vertigo or dizziness

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)

  • Checks blockages in the ear


Ophthalmoscopy is the clinical examination carried out for checking the interior of the eye which makes use of an ophthalmoscope.

They are handheld tools used by physicians to see into the fundus of the patient's eye.

It is mainly of two types: Direct and Indirect.

It helps diagnose:

  • Glaucoma

  • Bacterial infections

  • Retinal vascular diseases

  • Cataract

Hematology analyzer

A hematology analyzer is a computerized and automated machine that counts the leukocytes, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood and also determines hemoglobin and hematocrit levels.

Types: Semi-automated hematology analyzer

Fully automated hematology analyzer

It is used to detect oncological diseases.


Coagulometer is used to test the coagulation efficiency of blood to assess bleeding disorders.

It is used to test the coagulation efficiency of blood as it may help diagnose and assess bleeding disorders.

Bleeding disorders such as hemophilia can also monitor patients consuming anticoagulant medicines.

Reflex hammer

Used to test deep tendon reflexes to detect abnormalities in the central or peripheral nervous system.

Urine test strips

Used to determine pathological changes in a patient's urine in standard urine analysis.

Pregnancy test kit

Used to determine pregnancy by sampling blood or urine.


Diagnostic medical devices are used to determine the cause of a patient’s illness or injury. As it provides proper information to the health professional so that further treatment can be carried out to save a patient from severe health conditions. Many devices have now been updated which helps to detect a few health-related signs of a patient by measuring them easily and not making the need to visit clinics.

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