Which Doppler Do You Need?
Fetal/Vascular dopplers are a medical device that monitors the audible Fetal Heart Rate of an unborn baby or the veins of various body parts. Fetal dopplers are different than most medical devices as they are available to the public and medical professionals.
Since fetal dopplers do not require a prescription or medical license to purchase, individuals may buy their own fetal dopplers to listen to their baby’s heartbeat.
So what should you look for when purchasing a fetal/vascular doppler for your home or medical facility?
Vascular vs Fetal Dopplers
There are two types of dopplers that are available to the public for purchase. Fetal dopplers are for specifically monitoring the audible fetal heart rate of the patients’ baby. Vascular dopplers are for audibly monitoring your vascular blood flow. Though the devices are exactly the same, the probe for each type of doppler is different.
The most important part of your doppler purchase is understanding the frequency needed to accurately detect the FHR or vascular blood flow. The best way to understand which probe frequency you will need is by seeing the frequency MHZ as inverted. To clarify, 8MHZ is the most shallow probe frequency, meaning that it detects a shallower depth of field. However, 2MHZ is the deepest probe frequency, meaning that it can detect a deeper depth of field for penetrating multiple layers of skin or in this case a pregnant woman’s stomach.
What Factors Determine Price?
There are three main factors that determine the price of a doppler. Those factors are brand, probe frequency, At-Home vs Hospital Grade, and features.
The brand is one factor to consider when searching for a vascular or fetal doppler. Similar to most consumer products, some doppler brands are considerably more popular and expensive than others.
One example of a high-end brand would be the manufacturer Nicolet. Nicolet is a high-end doppler brand that has been around for over 40 years that average around $400 – $700. On the other end of the spectrum, you have cheap at-home brands like Sonoline and Edan which are relatively new doppler brands and have an average price of $40 – $120.
Probe frequency is another important factor in determining a doppler’s price. There are key distinctions in the probe frequencies and their application. Probe frequencies work inversely, for example, an 8MHZ probe penetrates through less skin, and therefore more appropriate for a vascular doppler than a 2MHZ probe.
As far as pricing goes probe frequencies do not affect the price unless it’s the difference between 2-3MHZ and 4-8MHZ. Remember, when determining which one to buy probes that are higher than 4MHZ are for a vascular doppler, while, probes that are 2-3MHZ are for fetal dopplers.
At-Home vs. Hospital Grade:
There are distinct differences between at-home dopplers and more sophisticated hospital-grade fetal dopplers that professional practitioners use. Typically, at-home dopplers are not nearly sensitive enough to sense a fetal heart rate until after the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.
Hospital-grade dopplers are sensitive enough to detect the fetal heart rate as early as eight weeks into the pregnancy. All in all, for early term pregnancies, hospital-grade dopplers are needed, while for later-term pregnancy pregnancies at home doppler is sufficient.
Features in a fetal doppler have a significant factor in determining the ease of use, functionality, and price of a fetal doppler.
Fetal dopplers come with several main features such as a backlit LCD display, allowing for more metrics displaying on the screen and for them to read in low-light conditions. The metrics on the LCD display could include a heartbeat indicator to help guide one to an optimal read.
Battery indicators are another feature that can provide ease of use when knowing to replace or charge batteries. There are also Fetal dopplers that have rechargeable batteries or can simply plug in.
However, the plugin option will have a lesser price tag while the rechargeable one would be slightly more in price. In essence, all fetal dopplers can with options and features that can be customized and tailored to your needs.
If you or your facility is considering purchasing a Fetal Doppler there are several factors that play a large role in determining the price of a machine such as brand, probe frequency, At-Home vs Hospital Grade, and features. Understanding what you need to monitor and what environment your fetal doppler will be in can help you in finding the right machine for your facility or home.