What Is a Doppler
ultrasound is a test that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to
measure the amount of blood flow through your arteries and veins, usually those
that supply blood to your arms and legs.
flow studies, also known as blood flow studies, can detect abnormal flow within
an artery or blood vessel. This can help to diagnose and treat a variety of
conditions, including blood clots and poor circulation. A Doppler ultrasound
can be used as part of a blood flow study.
ultrasound is a risk-free and pain-free procedure that requires little
preparation. The test provides your doctor with important information about the
flow of blood through your major arteries and veins. It can also reveal blocked
or reduced blood flow through narrowed areas in the arteries, which could
eventually lead to a stroke.
Why Do I Need a Doppler
may suggest a Doppler ultrasound exam if you show signs of decreased blood flow
in the arteries or veins of your legs, arms, or neck. A reduced amount of blood
flow may be due to a blockage in the artery, a blood clot inside a blood vessel,
or an injury to a blood vessel.
ultrasound exam may be ordered if you show signs of:
- deep vein thrombosis, a condition that occurs when a blood
clot forms in a vein deep inside your body (usually in the leg or hip regions)
- superficial thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the veins due
to a blood clot in a vein just below the skin's surface
- arteriosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of
the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet
obliterans, a rare disease in which the blood vessels of the hands and feet
become inflamed and swollen
tumors in your arms or legs
ultrasound can help determine the blood pressure within your arteries and show
how much blood is currently flowing through your arteries and veins.
How Should I Prepare for a Doppler
there’s no preparation required for this test. However, if you’re a smoker,
your doctor may ask you to stop smoking for several hours before the test. Smoking
causes your blood vessels to narrow, which can affect the results of your test.
What Happens During a
ultrasound is a noninvasive, painless procedure that doesn’t expose you to
harmful radiation. There are no risks associated with this test, and most
people feel little to no discomfort during the procedure.
The test is
usually performed in the radiology department of a hospital, doctor's office,
or peripheral vascular laboratory. The procedure can vary slightly, but in
general, you can expect the following:
will need to remove clothing, jewelry, and any other objects in the area that
will be studied. However, there’s no need to remove your glasses, contact lenses,
dentures, or hearing aids. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
the procedure, you’ll be instructed to lie down on an examination table or bed.
doctor will then place a water-soluble gel on a handheld device called a
transducer, which directs high-frequency sound waves into the arteries or veins
examine your arteries, blood pressure cuffs may be placed around various areas
of your body. The cuffs will generally be applied to your thigh, calf, ankle, or
various points along your arm. They help compare the blood pressure in
different parts of your leg or arm.
are created as the transducer is pressed against your skin and moved along your
arm or leg. The transducer sends sound waves through your skin and other body
tissues to the blood vessels. The sound waves echo off of your blood vessels
and send the information to a computer to be processed and recorded. The
computer will produce graphs or pictures that show the flow of the blood
through the arteries and veins. The transducer will be moved to different areas
for comparison. You may hear a "whooshing" sound as blood flow is
examining your leg arteries and veins, your doctor will look for narrowing of
the blood vessels. This condition may cause skin discoloration, pain when you
walk or rest, and ulcers on the foot or ankle.
will be completed in about an hour. Depending on your signs and symptoms, you
may be asked to perform some mild exercises after the procedure.
After the Procedure
people, there are no special instructions following a Doppler ultrasound. You
may resume your usual activities right away, unless your doctor tells you
Interpreting the Test
results indicate that you have no narrowing or blockages in your
arteries. It also means that the blood pressure in your arteries is normal. Abnormal
blood flow patterns, including narrowing or closing of the arteries, can
in the arteries, which may be due to a buildup of cholesterol
clot(s) in a vein or artery
circulation, which can be caused by damaged blood vessels
occlusion, or closing of a vein
arterial disease, a condition in which the arteries contract due to stress or exposure
to cold weather
or clots in an artificial bypass graft
some factors that may compromise the results, which means the test will need to
be done again. These factors include:
less than one hour before the test
dysrhythmias and arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms
results will be sent to your doctor. If any abnormalities are found, your
doctor will explain your results in more detail and inform you about any additional
tests or treatments that may need to be done.