A Doppler ultrasound is a relatively safe test that is used to estimate the blood flow in the vessels of your body. A Doppler ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves in order to measure the amount of blood flow in your body. This is technically the same method used by an ultrasound procedure, but the difference is, an ultrasound can’t exactly show blood flow.
What is a Doppler Ultrasound: Purpose
A Doppler ultrasound can serve many purposes, as it is able to help diagnose various diseases and conditions related to your bloodstream. Your attending physician may choose to subject you to a Doppler ultrasound when you are showing signs and symptoms of decreased blood flow, especially in your arms, legs, and your neck.
Some of the conditions that a Doppler ultrasound can help diagnose are:
- Arteriosclerosis- arteriosclerosis is a condition that involves the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, especially those that supply blood to the legs.
- DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis- is another condition involving your bloodstream that occurs when a blood clot develops in a deep vein inside your body. This usually occurs in the deep veins of your leg or hips.
- Thromboangitis Obliterans – this is one of the more rare diseases that can happen in your bloodstream that involves the blood vessels in your hands and feet become swollen and inflamed.
- Superficial Thrombophlebitis- this condition is defined as an inflammation of the veins of your body caused by a blood clot. This usually happens just below the skin’s surface.
Other Conditions that a Doppler Ultrasound can help diagnose are:
- Vascular tumors in the arms and legs
- Blood clots
- Aneurysms or bulging arteries
- Heart valve defects
- Congenital heart disease
- Carotid artery stenosis- the narrowing of an artery, most commonly happens in the neck
- Peripheral Artery Disease- decreased blood circulation in the extremities of the body ( such as in the legs)
- Arterial occlusion- a blocked artery
What is A Doppler Ultrasound: How Should I Prepare for one?
Usually, a patient about to undergo a Doppler ultrasound doesn’t have to do any preparations other than to prepare him/herself to go to the appointment on time. People who smoke, however, might be required by the doctor to stop smoking a few hours before being made to go through the test. This is because the act of smoking causes one’s blood vessels to narrow, thus somehow affecting the results of the test.
What is A Doppler Ultrasound: What are the Procedures During one?
If you are worried about any method that might hurt or that you should be prepared for during a Doppler ultrasound, there is no need for you to worry, as the process is a non-invasive and painless procedure. And although the Doppler ultrasound may use radiation, there is no harmful radiation involved or passed on to the patients.
Generally, here are the steps that go on during a Doppler ultrasound procedure:
- Clothing, jewelry and any object that might obstruct the area being studied should be removed. Hearing aids, dentures, glasses, and contacts are exempt from this rule. If you are worried about going naked, you will be provided with a hospital gown by the people examining you.
- You will initially be instructed to lie down on a table or bed.
- The doctor or operator will then proceed to place a gel on a handheld device named a transducer. This device directs high-frequency sound waves into the area it is pointed at.
- To properly examine your blood vessels, the physician or person in charge of the process may place blood pressure cuffs in spots near the area being examined. Some of the spots these will likely be placed are (in the case of your legs) in your ankles, calves, and thighs. This can help compare the difference in blood pressure in various parts of your body.
- Images are then shown on a monitor or computer near you as the transducer is pressed against your skin and moved around the area affected. The computer or monitor will proceed to make graphs and pictures that adequately show blood flow through your arteries and veins.
What is A Doppler Ultrasound: The Results after the procedure
The physician in charge will then proceed to interpret the test results, which will be in the form of graphs and pictures. A normal test result will likely indicate that you have no problems whatsoever with the flow of your blood, no narrowing happening or blockages present. This will also likely mean that the blood pressure in your arteries is at a normal level. Abnormal blood flow patterns, however, may indicate a host of conditions. Including:
- Blood clots
- Closing of a vein
- Abnormal contraction of arteries
- And poor circulation.
You might also want to read: