Doppler Stethoscope Review || The Only Guide You Need

Doppler stethoscope is an acoustic medical device that creates sound waves. It is used to identify the fetal heart rate and breathing movements of fetuses in pregnant women. Fetal specialists are able to use this information to take necessary precautions so they can help keep both mother and child health. 

This blog post will discuss what exactly doppler stethoscopes are, how they work, why they’re important for fetal specialists, and some tips on using these devices effectively.

What is a Doppler stethoscope?

The Doppler stethoscopes are portable ultrasound instruments that monitor the heartbeat and movements of a fetus. This device sends sound waves into the body and measures how they bounce back. An object moving at a different frequency, like a human heart inside the chest, is called the Doppler Effect. The use of the Doppler effect generates an audible heartbeat. 

There are some models that also display the heart rate in beats per minute (BPM). A device like this is also referred to as Doppler auscultation. Some people simply call it the Doppler stethoscope or the fetal Doppler. Also, it can be categorized as Doppler ultrasonography.

How does a Doppler stethoscope work?

The Doppler stethoscopes are placed on the body, but they produce ultrasonic waves which are sent into the body. The term ultrasound refers to any sound that is louder than 20,000 Hz, the upper limit of human hearing. 

In spite of the fact that the doctor cannot hear the ultrasound bouncing back from the organs, the Doppler stethoscope converts it into a sound signal that the doctor can listen to.

The Doppler stethoscope is most suitable for use on moving body parts, like the lungs and circulatory system, since the Doppler effect only occurs when the relevant object moves. 

Comparison Of A Doppler Stethoscope With A Regular Stethoscope

Noise Sensitivity 

If you are transporting patients in an environment with high ambient sounds, like a helicopter, a Doppler stethoscope may be of more significant assistance than a regular one. Moreover, as the electronic device is sensitive to noise, it can measure fetal heart activity accurately. 

It Cancels Out the Ambient Noise

Compared to regular stethoscopes, Doppler stethoscopes have a significant advantage. It does not hear most of the ambient noise in the environment, but it does hear the ultrasound it generates. 

If there is noise in the environment, such as in an emergency medical helicopter or a combat zone, a Doppler stethoscope can accurately assess an individual’s health. 

You Can Hear the Fetus Movements and Heartbeat

Additionally, expecting parents can clearly hear the heartbeat of unborn babies. Doppler stethoscopes provide similar information about the fetus as does a fetal stethoscope. 

 

Using ultrasound technology, the fetal Doppler transmits sound waves to the baby and retrieves a representation of its heartbeat. It may be possible to use specialized devices as early as eight weeks into pregnancy, although 12 weeks is more typical. The sound is similar to a galloping horse.

Advantages and disadvantages of a Doppler stethoscope

The user and the expectant mother can hear the heartbeat

One of the advantages of the Doppler stethoscope over a (pure acoustic) is its electronic output, which allows others to hear the heartbeat in addition to the user. 

Extraneous background noises are not heard

Moreover, it only hears the ultrasound it emits and does not pick up the vast majority of ambient noise. 

It can measure the systolic blood pressure

Doppler stethoscope can be used to measure systolic blood pressure even when conventional stethoscopes or automatic blood pressure meters are not functioning. Some of the models of Doppler stethoscope include earphones; it is worthwhile to use them.

A complex system 

Its complexity, cost, and technicality of usage reduce the attractiveness of a Doppler stethoscope for many doctors.

Who Can Use a Doppler Stethoscope?

  • It is common to use the Doppler during prenatal care visits. Both doctors and midwives can use the device.
  • This product is FDA-approved, but only for use by medical professionals.
  • Once you reach the 12th week of pregnancy, you can begin using it. However, results may vary.

 

How to use a Doppler stethoscope at home?

Doppler stethoscopes are highly recommended for pregnant women and midwives as well who may not know how to use the device properly. For those who are new to Doppler stethoscopes, the operating instructions for most Doppler stethoscopes are specific to that device, but here’s a general guide that you may follow:

 

Step 1: Insert Batteries

If you haven’t done so already, insert batteries into your Doppler stethoscope. Let it turn on.

Step 2: Lay BAck and Raise Your Top

In a comfortable position, lay back in bed. You should raise your top and slightly move your pants down.

Step 3: Apply Sonogram Gel

To use the sonogram gel, apply it to your lower belly. You can use Aloe vera or many lotions instead of sonogram gel if you don’t have one.

Step 4: Move the Doppler Around in the Middle of Your Belly

You will hear the heartbeat when you turn on the Doppler and move it around slowly. Just move it a bit at a time. It is likely that the lower you have to go, the earlier your pregnancy. You may want to try this below your belly button.

Step 5: Be Attentive to Focus on Faster Heartbeats

As you listen, you’ll also hear the pulse of your own heart and the pulse of an artery. But the heart rate of the infant’s heartbeat is considerably faster than an adult’s. 

What are the reasons if you are unable to find a baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler stethoscope?

People purchase Doppler stethoscopes at home to relieve their pregnancy anxiety. In between doctor’s appointments, parents might want to keep an eye on their unborn baby.

Utilizing a Doppler stethoscope can, however, have the opposite effect as well. An inability to locate the heartbeat can cause some panic. The difficulty you might experience in finding your baby’s heartbeat has legitimate reasons. Here are some.  

  • It is possible that the device you are using is damaged. As some Doppler stethoscopes are not certified by any regulatory body, they don’t have to meet any standards and can be of low quality.
  • Since this device was designed to be used by professionals, it’s possible that you are operating it incorrectly.
  • Check to see if it’s too early to detect a fetal heartbeat during pregnancy.
  • The baby might be hard to detect due to its position. 

The bottom line 

Hearing an unborn child’s heartbeat is fascinating.Doppler stethoscopes are very popular among pregnant women at home, for obvious reasons. However, it’s crucial to be aware of any potential issues with a Doppler stethoscope. It is not wise to rely on a device to diagnose any problems you or your unborn child may have without consulting a gynecologist.

Make sure you attend your prenatal appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions regarding kick counting as the baby’s due date approaches. If you want to use a Doppler stethoscope at home, talk to your doctor and get his opinion. 

 

Photo of author

Muhammad Bilal Qayyum

MBBS from Taishan Medical University and currently working in Bahawal Victoria Hospital. The blog is a great resource for both novices and experienced users when it comes to stethoscopes. As I studied and practiced, I evaluated various models on the market, which led me to become an expert in stethoscopes.

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