Thinklabs stethoscope

 

Picture of Thinklabs ds32a+

Thinklabs ds32a+
(Images courtesy of Thinklabs Medical)

A relative newcomer on the scene, Thinklabs stethoscopes are proving popular in use. You may still find some Thinklabs ds32a+ for sale but the current model is the Thinklabs One. Both are versatile and probably the closest to “one size fits all” we have in the UK at the moment.

Thinklabs One stethoscope with ear buds

Thinklabs One stethoscope with ear buds

The input/output socket is suitable for headphones and can also be used with hearing instrument accessories such as induction silhouettes (T setting), direct audio input and FM or Bluetooth streamers. But it is better to use earpieces or headphones if possible to avoid the problem of poor low frequency reproduction. You can also connect headphones or another Thinklabs stethoscope to allow dual listening.

The Thinklabs stethoscope connects to iPhone, iPod, digital audio recorders or computers to record sound and there’s an iPhone/iPod app to produce a visual display.

Image of Thinklabs iPhone/iPod app

Thinklabs Stethoscope App

Conventional stethoscopes transmit sound by air conduction through the tubing, leading to some attenuation. The Thinklabs stethoscope transmits sound electonically along wire in the tubing to speakers in the earpieces. So if I’ve understood right, the earpieces are electronic and I don’t think it can be used with adapted earpieces. But it may be possible to adapt conventional BTE moulds to accept the stethoscope’s earpieces.

It also has noise reduction features.

The headpiece arms are adjustable, useful if you find the pressure in your ears or on your hearing aids from conventional stethoscopes uncomfortable.

Make sure you read the instructions carefully. You can set different filters and also adjust frequency response by the changing the pressure on the diaphragm. This helps bring out specific heart or lung sounds while filtering out others.

Other information:

  • 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.
  • Certain electronic stethoscopes can link to hearing aids using accessories such as the T switch, direct audio input (DAI) cables or even FM or Bluetooth if your hearing aids have these facilities. However it is better to use earpieces or headphones if possible to avoid the problem of poor low frequency reproduction.

Which stethoscope? Comparison chart.

  6 Responses to “Thinklabs stethoscope”

  1. Hi, I have bilateral cochlear implants. Would I be able to plug on my own headphones cable that then plugs straight into my implants?
    Thanks

  2. Hi Jessica,

    I’m not sure if you mean that you have headphones that you wear over your processors. Or that you have a cable that is the equivalent of a headphone cable: you plug it into whatever you’re listening to and the other end plugs into your implants. I think you mean the second. But either can be done. With some provisos:

    Crucially, heart and lung sounds are mostly much lower frequency (ie pitch) than speech sounds. Hearing aids and implants are set up for speech. You need to show your audiologist the information at Do I need amplification? and Limitations of hearing aids and implants. Ask them whether your implants will reproduce these low frequencies.

    You may need a new programme setting up on your implants for using the stethoscope.

    But it’s possible that the implants aren’t able to reproduce these sounds because all the channels are for higher frequencies. (It may be worth asking the audiologist if there’s anything that could be done to move sounds to a higher frequency. I’m not sure if this is possible.)

    If the implants can’t reproduce these frequencies, you must use a visual display instead. You can link the Thinklabs stethoscope to apps to do this. Information from Thinklabs is here. Or use a Cardionics Vi-Scope if you can still find one (I think they’ve been discontinued.)

    Also, if you are using headphones, these must also have a good low frequency response. It’s no good your implants being set up right if the headphones aren’t transmitting the sounds properly. More information about headphones here and Thinklabs also mentions some suitable models here.

    Thinklabs has a chart of options with different categories of hearing aids and implants here.

    Clare

  3. Where is this sold in the U.K.? Can it be trialled with a baha4?

    • Hi Julia,

      I haven’t yet heard of a UK supplier but you can buy direct from Thinklabs in the US. Read about VAT and import duty-exemption and about ordering equipment from overseas.

      You may be able to use it with a BAHA. If you have enough residual low frequency hearing in at least one ear (that is, you can hear low frequencies even without the BAHA) then the most reliable will be to use an amplified stethoscope such as the Thinklabs One with normal earpieces or with headphones. (Check the information here to make sure you get headphones with the right specifications.)

      If your unaided low frequency hearing isn’t enough, then you may be able to use the stethoscope with your BAHA. Either with a streamer or direct audio input cable or possibly on T setting with ear hooks (neckloop probably wouldn’t give a strong enough signal). But you’d need to discuss it with your audiologist. Show them the information about frequencies of heart and lung sounds. You may need a programme setting up on the BAHA to use the low frequencies and it will depend how low the BAHA can go.

      If you can’t get an audio setup, you can use the Thinklabs One with visual display.

      Check with Thinklabs about a trial period. It’s likely to be a month. I’m not sure if they would pay for return shipping though. So if you’re being funded by your employer or by Access to Work, make sure they’ve agreed to cover the cost of return if it doesn’t work out for you.

      Feel free to get back to me if you have more questions. Either here or use the contact form if you prefer somewhere more private.

      Clare

  4. Hi
    Can the stethoscope be connected to external speakers ford real time audio display for the benefit of the students and will the sound quality be good
    Thanks
    Dr Shiraz

    • I expect it can and the quality would probably depend on the quality of the audio setup you use. You’ll be best off asking Thinklabs direct. There’s a contact link on their website.
      Clare

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