Suggested Retail Price $700
The CareDop baby doppler is made in the US by Viasys Healthcare who bought out Imex, a Colorado based company and original designer and manufacturer of the whole line of Viasys obstetrical dopplers. The CareDop baby doppler has been around for a long time with little if any changes or additions in its design or technology. It seems like Nicolet feels Imex got it right the first time when designing this baby doppler.
The CareDop baby doppler is a two speaker ultrasound doppler which gives it its bulk and interesting shape. We really couldn't hear much difference between the CareDop baby doppler and the more common single speaker dopplers. It isn't any louder and doesn't offer any real difference in audio quality. The unit itself is obviously larger and more cumbersome than a single speaker unit but does employ a very useful handle for holding the device during an exam. The whole Nicolet line of baby dopplers employ a phone type cord to connect the probe to the device which easily stretches to give the probe a nice range. One major design concern we had was the two prong system that holds the probe in place. We found that these prongs can easily break if accidentally dropped, bumped, or bent which will cost you a steep $155 to have fixed, not including shipping both ways.
All Nicolet obstetrical baby dopplers have interchangeable probes which isn't really necessary for an obstetrical baby doppler unit but does enable Nicolet to offer a choice between a 2 or 3 mghz probe. Niclolet also offers a 2 mghz waterproof probe, plan on paying an additional $250-$300 for another probe.
We found Nicolet's marketing material on their baby dopplers very interesting. They claim that with their pre-positioned crystals and unique probe finding a signal is easier than ever. Once again, we believe the most important factor in finding the fetal heartbeat with ease is experience. Aside from this, earlier in pregnancy we like a baby doppler equipped with a 2mghz probe as it penetrates deeper with its narrow signal giving the examiner more of a chance to find the fetal heartbeat earlier in pregnancy. With a wider beam, yes, it may be hypothetically easier to find a signal but by 12 weeks the fetal heartbeat, though still very small, can be picked up fairly easily with either a 2 or 3 mghz transducer. The fact is that a 3 mghz probe doesn't penetrate deep enough to find the fetal heart rate as early as 8 weeks. The 3mghz probe is standard on this unit.
Pre-positioned crystals are an interesting but confusing concept to us. The marketing literature instructs the user to keep probe flat during exam and that angling the probe isn't necessary. Our studies showed this worked only about half the time and often angling the probe helped considerable. We have found in all our studies and review that the best way to find a fetal heartbeat with any probe, pre-angled crystals or not, is to pick up and place the probe, trying many different angles until you find the best reception. Sliding the probe around is a great way to produce lots of static and the CareDop baby doppler is no exception.
As with all our test dopplers we used the CareDop baby doppler once a week every week beginning at 8 weeks. The earliest we were able to pick up the fetal heartbeat with any of our expecting mothers was 10 weeks. By 12 weeks all of our patients were able to hear the heartbeat. Overall we liked the CareDop baby doppler and found it very user friendly. We gave the CareDop an overall 7 out of a possible 10 mostly due to cost considerations as the price is a little on the expensive side for what you get. We feel that there are other baby dopplers on the market that offer more for less.
The CareDop we found to be very durable except the pronged probe holder which we feel could be reworked. The speakers work well and the volume control is placed very conveniently on the main unit for thumb control when holding the unit during an exam. When probe is secured on main unit the very sensitive and easily harmed transducer is well hidden and protected which isn't the case with Nicolet's Elite models. The power button is obvious and easy to turn on and off. A green light appears when unit is on and a red light appears when battery is low.
- Dual Speakers
- Interchangeable Probe
- Headphone Jack
- Low Battery Indicator
- Static Reducing Technology
Ten years parts and labor