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Stethoscope Solutions for Hearing Aids

A. U. Bankaitis, PhD, FAAA

May 22, 2006

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Question

I am looking for a solution for BTE users who use stethoscopes. I have seen adaptors for the ear pieces for ITC and CIC users, so what is the best way to hook up a BTE user?

Answer

Thanks for this question. I would like to answer it from a broader perspective and talk about the various types of options available for persons who wear all styles of hearing aids, or even if the user does not wear hearing aids to begin with.

Amplified Stethoscopes:

These can be used with or without hearing aids and there are several brands currently available including: E-Scope II, Welch Allyn Master Elite, and the 3M Littman, Electromax. These devices provide anywhere from 15 to 50 dB of gain, depending on the product specs.

Hearing instrument users in need of an amplified stethoscope who want to use their hearing instruments must reconfigure the stethoscope with additional adapters or accessories to enable it to work with their current instruments.

Options for BTE users:

BTE's with a T-coil - use the E-Scope II with induction silhouette that can loop to t-coil to allow user to hear sounds through hearing instrument BTE's without a T-coil, use the E-Scope II with direct audio input (which will require DAI boots).

Note: We have found limited success in pairing a neckloop with a stethoscope as most neckloops do not have the power to drive the stethoscope.

Options for ITC/CIC users

Adaptors for wearers of ITCs or CICs are available (called stethomate tips). These basically couple the non-amplified stethoscope to the hearing aid microphone while providing some space between them to help prevent feedback. We have found about a 30% success rate in users being satisfied with this configuration. The most common reasons cited for failure are pain (they push too hard on the hearing instrument) and/or the user has difficulty lining up the sound port with the opening of the stethomate. This is important to know since realistic expectations must be set up with the patient prior to trying out various options.

Stethomate tips can also be used with amplified stethoscopes as long as the stethoscope earpieces can be removed and replaced with the stethomate tips.

Note: Heart and breath sounds are low-frequency sounds (20 Hz to 650 Hz). Depending on the individual's hearing loss and hearing program, there may be a need to provide a "stethoscope hearing aid program" designed to amplify the lower sounds that may typically be left unamplified in typical hearing loss configurations.

A.U. Bankaitis, Ph.D., is Vice President and General Manager of Oaktree Products, Inc. in St. Louis, MO. www.oaktreeproducts.com


a u bankaitis

A. U. Bankaitis, PhD, FAAA

Vice President, Oaktree Products, Inc.

A.U. Bankaitis, PhD is Vice President of Oaktree Products, Inc of St. Louis, MO, a multi-line distributor of audiology and hearing health care products. Dr. Bankaitis earned her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1995 where her funded research investigated the effects of varying degrees of HIV on the auditory system. This research naturally led to the area of infection control. Dr. Bankaitis is considered one of the leading experts in this area as it pertains to the hearing industry, authoring numerous infection control publications including the popular text book Infection Control in the Audiology Clinic.  none