The Cardionics Vi-Scope is the only stethoscope with an integral visual display. You can view the phonocardiogram or phonopneumogram as you examine without needing a separate piece of equipment. Very convenient if you need visual display. Bulky if you don’t. (Compare to the Thinklabs ds32a+ which can be linked to an iPhone or iPod.)
The Vi-Scope comes in two models, “Clinical” and “Hearing Impaired.” The Clinical model has normal stethoscope earpieces so you take out your hearing aids or use adapted earpieces or custom moulds. The “Hearing Impaired” model is supplied with headphones which can often be worn over hearing aids. As I understand it, the base unit is identical. You can unplug the stethoscope headset from the Clinical model, plug in headphones and it becomes a Hearing Impaired model. And vice versa. I’m just waiting on Cardionics to confirm this.
However, this may not be the best choice if you want to use headphones or other accessories such as induction silhouettes (T setting), direct audio input or FM or Bluetooth streamers. The Vi-Scope is the new contender from the same stable as the Cardionics E-Scope. The E-Scope was a versatile and popular choice until summer 2012 when its CE license ran out and wasn’t renewed. Still popular in the US, it’s currently unavailable in the EU. Like the Vi-Scope, the E-Scope also has a Hearing Impaired model which gave excellent amplification through headphones. But Becky Morris at Beyond Hearing Aids has been testing the Vi-Scope and writes,
“The non-traditional ViScope model has an audio output jack designed for headphones, streamers and silhouettes like the Escope. But during my testing, the output sound level is NOT comparable. If you wanted the sound level of an Escope with visual display, the ViScope may not be the answer. I have not been able to get satisfactory results for headphones or connecting to streamers.”
Becky is an authority on stethoscope use for deaf and hard of hearing health professionals  so if you want to use headphones or other accessories and need the amplification, you may prefer the Thinklabs ds32a+ or the Cardionics E-Scope if you can somehow get hold of one.
- Have you read the essential safety information: “limitations of hearing aids and implants?”
- Consider funding
- Arrange a trial period
- And see how your audiogram matches up to heart and lung sounds to find out whether you need amplification or not.
- Don’t forget, hearing aids don’t usually reproduce the low frequencies well. So if you’re using earpieces, custom moulds or headphones over hearing aids you also need vents in your ear moulds or open fitting.
Which stethoscope? Comparison chart.
 Becky is co-author of the seminal articles about stethoscope use with hearing aids and implants, eg How to cope with scopes: Stethoscope selection and use with hearing aids and CIs.
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