What is a Pocket Doppler?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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A pocket Doppler is a handheld Doppler ultrasound device which is designed to be used for unobtrusive and rapid monitoring of a patient. Such devices are sold by a number of medical device manufacturers, and can also be ordered through supply catalogs which offer medical devices. Pocket Dopplers are suitable for both human and veterinary use, although many companies tend to focus on selling devices to one medical community or the other.

Doppler ultrasonography is a form of ultrasonography which is designed to identify movement within the body with the use of the Doppler effect. When soundwaves are beamed into the body, if they encounter a moving object, ranging from blood traveling down an artery to a fetal heartbeat, the pitch of the sound seems to shift, depending on the direction of the movement. This shift can be represented audibly or visibly.

In the case of a pocket Doppler, the device has a probe which is usually attached to audio speakers, although some devices have small displays. The care provider moves the probe over the area of the interest, and follows the audio response over the speakers. Some come with headphones, which can help to isolate the sound; people may also prefer to listen in privacy so that they can listen to and interpret the sound without attracting attention or concern from the patient while they try to work.


A pocket Doppler can be used to quickly check for vascular problems, and to monitor patients with ongoing vascular conditions. Changes in sound can indicate occlusions, aneurysms, and other vascular abnormalities which may required medical attention. The pocket Doppler is usually easier to use than a full scale Doppler ultrasound machine, and it can be used unobtrusively for patient monitoring. Patients who are confined to bed can be monitored for signs of emerging occlusions and other common vascular complications of prolonged bedrest with a pocket Doppler.

Another use for this device is in obstetrics, where it can be utilized to check on the health of a developing fetus. In this case, the device is used by an obstetrician to monitor the fetus, both during routine prenatal appointments and during labor. One advantage to a pocket device is that an obstetrician or midwife can carry it in a kit to examine women at home, allowing women to receive prenatal examinations in the comfort of their homes, rather than obliging them to go to a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital for checkups. The portability of the device is also useful for ambulance crews who may want to have access to Doppler ultrasound in the field.


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