In the Star Trek episode "Court Martial", when McCoy used the white sound device on Spock, why did he use it on his chest? Isn't the Vulcan’s heart located in the area of where the human liver would be?

  • 1
    Had the position of a Vulcan's heart been established by that point?
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 16, 2019 at 14:53
  • 1
    It wasn't established until the episode Private Little War, I was looking for an in universe explanation. Dec 16, 2019 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


According to the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual, Vulcan hearts are on the right side, below the lungs.

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Holding the heart monitor near to the correct part of the anatomy seems to be sufficient to pick up the sound given that he holds it near to the Conn Officer's shoulder and it still picks up his heartbeat.

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It all depends from what your view of the science of Star Trek is. You could take the view that the actors and director just didn't bother too much about consistency when it comes to Vulcan anatomy. And then handwave away things with technobabble. Obviously the technology must be very clever.

But you could also argue that they knew more about medicine than you think, and that this is actually how medicine works. In real-world medicine, one does not listen for heart sounds at the places where the heart valves are. One listens for them at the places to where the sound best conducts from the valve to the surface of the body.

One listens for the sound of the pulmonary valve at the 2nd left intercostal, for example, not by placing a stethoscope directly over where the valve actually is. Listening for the mitral valve is done way over to the left.

It's quite plausible that such considerations apply to Vulcans too.

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