Fetal Monitors

‘Cardiotocographic’ monitors usually detect fetal heart rate, internally, by ultrasound transducer, and uterine contractions, externally, by tocodynamometer. This combination of technologies is routine for antepartum and intrapartum management. There are also machines with electrode and intrauterine pressure sensors for internal monitoring of fetal heart and contraction signals, a more precise way than monitoring externally. These methods are only applicable during labour, however, after cervical dilatation and ruptured membranes, and they do have established contraindications. Our more complex machines offer numerous characteristics popular with customers, like registration of fetal movements, simultaneous monitoring of twins and triplets, continuous monitoring of maternal parameters, and various alarms, digital output options, and telemetry modes. We also offer simpler machines, like basic Doppler monitors. These are popular because they’re portable, some of them hand-held. They don’t cost much, and they may be all you need. 

Fetal Monitors Questions & Answers

Our machines themselves pose no established risk. However, untrained individuals can misinterpret the readings. This could lead to inappropriate delays in seeking proper medical attention. Our machines are for professional use only.
Consensus among professional groups is that, based on the evidence, intermittent auscultation is perfectly reasonable in uncomplicated pregnancies. In riskier pregnancies and deliveries, it’s a different story. Our machines can handle all of that.
There is no standardization of alert and alarm parameters among manufacturers in the United States, and there is no data about how sensitive or specific they are. That surprises a lot of people (including us). There is no agreement among professional medical associations, either. Some labor nurses appreciate alerts and alarms, but others find them a nuisance. There is no evidence, in any case, about whether they promote or detract from patient safety.
We can’t counsel you on clinical management of your patients, but there is a very recent study showing that in a population comprising only late-term pregnancies, fetal ECG monitoring had no benefits for the mother or fetus.