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Fetal Dopplers


For a medical practice, especially one concentrating on obstetrics, a medical-grade, obstetric fetal Doppler is one of the most important diagnostic tools you can stock. Before you purchase fetal heartbeat Doppler monitors for your practice, there are a few key features you should keep in mind.

8 Features to Look for in a Medical-Grade, Obstetric Fetal Doppler

  1. Easy to Use
  2. Compact, Lightweight and Ergonomic Design
  3. Large LCD display
  4. Accurate Fetal Heart Rate Detection with Clear Sound
  5. Highly Sensitive Interchangeable Probes
  6. Durable and Reliable
  7. Special Features
  8. Value

A fetal Doppler uses sound waves to allow both the doctor and the mother to hear a baby heartbeat from inside the uterus – usually for the first time during the patient's first trimester. It's a reassurance for expectant parents, and an absolute essential for the healthcare provider, who uses the device to assess both fetal heartbeat and fetal blood circulation – both are vital measures for your team to assess a broad range of fetal health complications. In fact, the use of Doppler ultrasonography is imperative for detecting and reducing issues early in pregnancy – especially during the first trimester – and protecting the overall health and well-being of both mother and baby.

8 Features to Look for in a Medical-Grade, Obstetric Fetal Doppler
Before purchasing a medical fetal Doppler, be sure it meets the following criteria so you can make the most informed ultrasound purchasing decisions for your team. 

1. Easy to Use
If your fetal heart Doppler is easy to use, your team is more likely to use it consistently and accurately, with the best possible outcomes for your patients. Using this ultrasound technology is a basic skill – just like taking vital signs during a routine doctor's appointment–that everyone on your medical team should master. Look for models that don't overcomplicate the user experience, so using this medical device a smooth and seamless experience for both your team and your patients.

2. Compact, Lightweight and Ergonomic Design
A handheld Doppler fetal monitor, if designed correctly, can be carried from patient room to patient room with ease, or throughout a stint of hospital rounds. Look for models that are lightweight and fit well in the hand so that your unit doesn't become a cumbersome and heavy component of your team's tool kit. A hand-held ultrasound device can be a key staple of your team's medical equipment. You may even decide to go for a pocket fetal Doppler for ease of use – like the Huntleigh fetal Doppler pocket version.

3. Large LCD Display
Look for a fetal heart Doppler that features the ability to automatically display the fetal heart rate, so your medical team doesn't always have to manually count and register the fetal heartbeat sound. Doing so ensures that your team can use the device more easily and confidently, and it dramatically decreases the opportunity for errors during use. 

However, the unit should also allow you to manually count the fetal heart tones when needed to make sure your team is prepared for situations when using that method is best. In order to meet the individual needs of your team members, you should also look for a device that offers a variety of LCD display sizes for easy reading. In addition to monitoring the baby's heart rate and blood flow, many displays also allow your team to monitor battery life and signal strength.

4. Accurate Fetal Heart Rate Detection with Clear Sound
Your team needs a medical device that can deliver clear, sharp fetal heartbeat sounds reliably and consistently. This allows your staff to make the best judgments and diagnoses, and ultimately best serve your patients. Check the audio output levels to make sure that it's appropriate for each member of your medical team who will be using the device. Your team needs to be able to detect fetal heart tones clearly, with no static or background noise during all stages of the patient's pregnancy.

5. Highly Sensitive Interchangeable Probes
The more sensitive the fetal Doppler probe, the more accurate your team can be with their observations and diagnoses, leading to the best outcomes for fetal well-being. Make sure that the unit you choose supports a variety of frequencies in order to give your team as much versatility as possible. Most health care professionals can find the fetal heart rate with either a 2MHz or 3MHz probe. In general, the 2MHz fetal Doppler probe is appropriate for most maternal patients and the 3MHz is especially suited for detecting the fetal heartbeat and fetal blood flow in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. 

Additional probes can be helpful for vascular applications–for example, an 8 MHz probe can be used to detect both systolic pressure and ankle waveforms. In addition, the 5 MHz probe can be used for early fetal heartbeat detection, and it is also ideal for overweight or obese patients or those who present with a retroverted uterus. If your facility performs water births, be sure to have a selection of waterproof probes on hand. Look for probes with easy-to-connect plugs – those that click when connected properly are also helpful. 

Special note: With interchangeable pieces such as these, make sure your team is appropriately trained on how to carefully and thoroughly clean and sterilize probes after each use.

6. Durable and Reliable
If you see a high volume of pregnant patients, you need to ensure that your obstetric Doppler fetal units can stand up to a high level of daily use. Always verify the warranty information; you want to choose a manufacturer that will stand behind the quality of your Doppler monitor, ensuring you'll be able to use it accurately and successfully over time. Some specialized units may come with as much as a five-year warranty, but most standard warranties, especially for smaller units, are one full year. Purchasing an extended warranty may also be an option to consider.

7. Special Features
You'll find a full range of fetal Doppler units with a variety of bells and whistles. Some valuable upgrades that can help your team succeed are features such as a 50-210 bpm heart rate range for maximum versatility and a 240s recording time. Many units are handheld, portable versions, though fetal heart rate monitor models with more advanced features – like the GE Fetal Monitor Corometrics-typically are wall-mounted or mounted on a cart, table or stand. Some models even come with printers that allow your team to print immediate results. In addition, many units feature automatic shutoff when a signal is no longer detected, which helps save valuable battery life. And many models feature rechargeable batteries – some will hold a charge for years at a time and may be recharged as many as 2,000 times over the course of its life.

8. Value
As with most medical devices you purchase for your medical practice, you're looking for value. Consider carefully your volume of prenatal care patients, your fetal monitoring needs, the size of your team, warranty information, and manufacturer support when making your choice. Typically, fetal Doppler prices range from $500 up to $7,000 per unit, especially if ultrasound technology is included. Your challenge is to find the price range that uses your resources wisely while also making sure your team members have the best possible equipment to support their important work caring for prenatal care patients and their babies.

The Risks of At-Home Fetal Dopplers
You may find that many of your practice's patients will ask about at-home fetal monitors, which allows them to listen to their baby's heartbeat at home. This is a fairly recent technological advancement featuring handheld devices that pregnant women can purchase online or from a local baby supply store. While it's a profoundly comforting practice for parents to listen to their baby's heartbeat at their convenience during the weeks of pregnancy, there is serious risk associated with at-home fetal monitors. In fact, the FDA has specifically advised against the use of at-home fetal Dopplers. You and your team should be aware of these risks so that you can effectively counsel your patients. 

First, using an at-home baby heartbeat monitor typically means using it without proper training. Your health care team – whether a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or certified care provider – has undergone extensive training to be able to effectively use the equipment with patients and read/interpret its results. Patients using fetal Doppler devices in their homes may not fully understand the results, which can lead to a wide variety of negative outcomes – including false abnormal results. In addition, repetitive and/or prolonged exposure to a fetal Doppler without medical supervision could pose a risk to the fetus.

An at-home fetal Doppler can provide patients with a false sense of security. The sad truth is that the presence of a normal fetal heart rate doesn't guarantee that all is well with a pregnancy. Focusing solely on the heartbeat could lead a patient to miss or ignore other warning signs that something is amiss with the fetus – for example, lack of movement.

Having the ability to listen to the baby's heartbeat at home can also lead to unnecessary stress for the mother. Especially for patients who are more anxious or nervous by nature, using an at-home obstetric Doppler may have unintended consequences. In addition to encouraging a false sense of security, these devices also can foster a false sense of worry. Just because you can't pick up a heart rate at a given moment doesn't necessarily mean there's an issue. Most at-home versions don't always work exactly as they should, and they aren't always as strong as they need to be in order to consistently detect and translate the heartbeat sound appropriately.

The Best Fetal Doppler for Your Practice
The women who visit your medical practice trust your team to deliver the best possible information about their pregnancies, including being able to detect a wide range of fetal health complications through obstetric Doppler technology. A fetal Doppler is the most commonly used ultrasound device for monitoring a fetus throughout a patient's pregnancy and is an important diagnostic tool for measuring fetal health. Thoroughly doing your research and understanding the needs of your practice can help you procure the best fetal Doppler for your practice – one that lets your team meet the high expectations of its obstetric patients.

If you've researched your options but still feel like you need some assistance or can't decide where to buy fetal Doppler units, the team at USA Medical and Surgical Supplies would love to help you. Our goal is to provide top quality medical equipment and supplies at reasonable prices that are right for your practice. With decades of experience studying and procuring medical supplies and equipment, we're here to help. Contact us today if you have any questions about the best medical-grade, obstetric Doppler options for your practice.

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