Doppler Ultrasound

A Doppler ultrasound is a noninvasive diagnostic imaging test that uses sound waves to evaluate blood flow through the major vessels. Abdominal ultrasound is also used during pregnancy to assess the health and development of the fetus.

Benefits of a Doppler Ultrasound

There are many benefits to a Doppler since it is the only type of ultrasound capable of evaluating blood vessels, does not utilize any ionizing radiation, and can be easily performed in the doctor's office. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, a Doppler ultrasound provides extremely accurate results, although is is occasionally possible for a bone to block part of an image. A Doppler ultrasound procedure is considered to be effectively risk-free.

Reasons for a Doppler Ultrasound

A Doppler ultrasound is a valuable tool since it can be used to diagnose dangerous conditions during their early stages. Thus, a Doppler ultrasound may provide doctors with the chance to take procedural or surgical measures which may prove lifesaving. Doppler ultrasounds may be administered to detect:

  • Blocked carotid artery
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Heart valve defects
  • Blocked or narrowed blood vessels anywhere in the body
  • Fetal development or abnormalities

With the use of a Doppler ultrasound, potentially fatal events, such as a pulmonary embolism, stroke or heart attack, can be diagnosed and treated through early intervention. A Doppler ultrasound can also be used to find anomalies on a fetus to make taking preventive measures possible.

The Doppler Ultrasound Procedure

Prior to a Doppler ultrasound procedure, patients should avoid nicotine products for several hours since these will restrict blood vessels and interfere with accurate results. Patients are required to wear loose clothing, remove jewelry and fast for up to 12 hours before the examination. For an ultrasound of the pelvic region, as during a pregnancy, the patient may have to drink many glasses of water and refrain from urinating since a full bladder is necessary for the procedure.

During a Doppler ultrasound, gel is applied to the area to be examined in order to assist in the conduction of sound waves. An instrument called a transducer will be placed on the skin and moved over the skin of the area in question in order for the sound waves to produce images. The images will appear on a computer screen so the doctor will be able to view the blood vessels in real time and save them for future review. The entire Doppler ultrasound procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform.

Additional Resources