WHAT IS DOPPLER ULTRASOUND?
A Doppler ultrasound is a noninvasive test that uses high frequency sound waves reflected off blood cells to see how blood flows through a blood vessel.
It helps doctors assess the blood flow through major arteries and veins, such as those of the arms, legs, and neck. It can show blocked or reduced flow of blood through narrow areas in the major arteries of the body. A Doppler ultrasound may help diagnose many conditions, including:
- Blood clots
- Poorly functioning valves in your leg veins, which can cause blood or other fluids to pool in your legs (venous insufficiency)
- A blocked artery (arterial occlusion)
- Decreased blood circulation into your legs (peripheral artery disease)
- Bulging arteries (aneurysms)
- Narrowing of an artery, such as in your neck (carotid artery stenosis)
- Adequacy of blood flow to a fetus
Our Voluson E6 and Logiq S7 ultrasound machines are world-class machines with superior resolution. The B-flow feature in our machines enable real-time visualization of blood flow as it navigates plaques.
What does the equipment look like?
Doppler ultrasound examinations are done with special ultrasound machines which consist of a console containing a computer and electronics, a video display screen and a transducer that is used to do the scanning. The transducer is a small hand-held device that resembles a microphone, attached to the scanner by a cord.
The transducer sends out high-frequency sound waves (that the human ear cannot hear) into the body and then listens for the returning echoes from the tissues in the body.
The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen that looks like a computer or television monitor.
What can I expect during the exam?
You will be positioned lying face-up on an examination couch that can be tilted or moved. You may be required turned to either side or lie face down to improve the quality of the images.
After you are positioned on the examination table, the sonologist (a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations) will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied.
The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured. The exam itself usually takes from 15 to 45 minutes.
How do I prepare for this exam?
For 30 minutes to 2 hours before the test, you may need to stop using products that contain nicotine (cigarettes for example). Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, which may give false results. You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure.
What can I expect after the exam?
The sonologist, a physician specialist, will study the results of your exam and give a report based on your study examination. You may discuss the report with the sonologist.
What are the benefits?
- Doppler ultrasound is noninvasive (no needles or injections).
- Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.
- Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation.
- Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.