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Fetal Dopplers

Obstetric Dopplers are sometimes often referred to as Fetal Dopplers. Obstetric Dopplers perform Obstetric ultrasound tests on pregnant women. Obstetric Dopplers help assess fetal blood circulation and fetal heartbeats. Fetal blood heartbeats and circulation are very important to identify a range of fetal health and fetal health complications. Obstetric Dopplers use a series of sound waves and echoes to analyze a baby’s heartbeat and blood flow in veins and arteries. Obstetric Dopplers use Doppler ultrasound technology and the test results can be viewed in color, on a color ultrasound, or by audio from a small speaker.

Obstetric/fetal Dopplers are small, hand-held devices that has an attached probe (containing a crystal) that sends and receives sound waves to listen to the baby's heart rate in the uterus. When the sound waves are bounced off moving objects, such as the fetal heart, the frequency changes slightly. This change in frequency is then analyzed by the electronics inside the Doppler that converts into a sound that can be heard or seen on a digital display. Other sounds can be picked up such as a swooshing sound from maternal bowel sounds or the maternal heart rate.

The name Doppler comes from Austrian mathematician and physicist, Christian Doppler who discovered the Doppler shift principle in 1842. The principal explains the fact that moving objects make sounds that are higher or lower in pitch depending on whether the object is moving towards or away from a person.

Doctors, nurses, and patients can use fetal Dopplers. They are used at each office visit or hospital visit although, a more advanced fetal monitor is often used in the hospital setting. A small amount of gel is placed on the maternal abdomen and the probe is pressed against the skin until a sound or heart beat is picked up via sound and by digital display. The gel helps transmit the sound waves.

Features that are important are easy to see digital displays, clear sounds free of static or background noise, cords that do not twist or tangle easily, adjustable volumes, a latch on unit to store probe when not in use, and long battery life and fast charging capabilities. Some Dopplers do not have display, only sounds. Audio recordings are possible on some units, More advanced features include a large display panel for heart rate, battery status, and signal strength. High fidelity speakers and built-in electronics. Probes with easy-to-connect plugs that click when connected properly and transvaginal probes are other options. Prices range from $500-1300. Waterproof versions available.

Obstetric Dopplers range from basic, consumer modules to full-featured color ultrasound professional models. Many Obstetric Dopplers are very portable, handheld units.  The models with more features are usually mounted on a stand, cart, wall, or table. Some obstetric Dopplers have printers to print the test results. Professional-grade Obstetric Dopplers from the same manufacturer generally use the same, interchangeable family of Obstetrical Probes. Some Obstetrical probes can be sterilized. Obstetrical Probes are made for a specific frequency. The frequency (in MHz) represents the size of different beams from flat, medium, and narrow beams.

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