What is a doppler ultrasound?
A Doppler ultrasound is a test that utilizes high-recurrence sound waves to gauge the measure of blood coursing through corridors and veins, as a rule, the ones that flexibly blood to your arms and legs.
Vascular flow studies, also known as blood flow studies, can detect abnormal flow within an artery or blood vessels. This can help diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including blood clots and poor circulation. Doppler ultrasound may be used as part of a blood flow study.
Doppler ultrasound is a risk-free, pain-free procedure that requires little preparation. The Doppler ultrasound test provides your doctor with important information about blood flow through major arteries and veins. It can also reveal blockages or reduced blood flow through narrowed areas in the arteries, which may eventually lead to a stroke.
Why does a person need a doppler ultrasound?
A doctor may order a Doppler ultrasound if the person shows signs of decreased blood flow to the arms, neck, or legs.
The following, for example, can reduce blood flow:
- Blood clots in the veins
- Arteries are blocked or narrowed
- Vascular injuries
A health care provider usually recommends a Doppler ultrasound if a person shows signs or symptoms of certain conditions, such as peripheral arterial disease. This occurs when fatty deposits collect in the arteries, restricting blood flow.
It can cause peripheral arterial disease:
- Cold feet or lower legs
- Weakness or numbness in the legs
- Painful cramps in the muscles of the legs or hips while walking or climbing stairs
- Changes in skin colour
- The shiny complexion on the legs
In other cases, a doctor may order a Doppler ultrasound if a person has symptoms of heart disease, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the feet, legs, or abdomen
In general, a doctor tends to order this type of ultrasound in a person:
- It may have damaged blood vessels
- He is currently receiving treatment for his blood flow disorder
- Have recently had a stroke, in which case they will check blood flow in the brain, called a transcranial Doppler procedure
Also, if the fetus is smaller than expected, a Doppler ultrasound can look for any abnormalities in blood flow.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the doppler ultrasound test?
To prepare for a Doppler ultrasound, you may need this:
- Remove clothing and jewellery from the area of the body being tested.
- Avoid cigarettes and other products containing nicotine for up to two hours before the test. Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, which may affect your results.
- For certain types of Doppler tests, you may be required to fast (do not eat or drink) for several hours before the test.
- Your healthcare provider will tell you if you need to do anything to prepare for the test.
What happens during a Doppler ultrasound?
- You will be asked to lie on a table, usually on your side or on your back. You will be covered with a blanket, except for the part of your body that is being scanned.
- The ultrasound staff will apply a gel to your skin on the part of your body being examined so that there is good contact between the probe and your body. They will then place the handheld scanner over the gel, moving it around the area being scanned. Sometimes they’ll need pressure, which can be uncomfortable, but that shouldn’t hurt.
- You will need to lie still while the staff can. You may hear the sound of blood flowing through the blood vessels.
- When the ultrasound is finished, the staff will give you something to clean off the gel and ask you to wait for them to check the pictures.
- A Doppler ultrasound usually takes about 30-60 minutes including the time taken to prepare. Some scans may take longer.
A normal result means that the blood vessels are not showing signs of narrowing, clots, or blockages and that the arteries have a normal blood flow.
What abnormal results of doppler ultrasound mean?
Abnormal results may be due to:
- A blockage in an artery due to a blood clot
- A blood clot in a vein (DVT)
- Artery narrowing or widening
- Spastic arterial disease (contractions of the arteries caused by cold or excitement)
- Venous embolism (closing a vein)
- Venous reflux (blood flowing in the wrong direction in the veins)
- Arterial blockage from atherosclerosis
This test may also be done to help evaluate the following conditions:
- Arteriosclerosis in the extremities
- Deep venous thrombosis
- Superficial thrombophlebitis