Doppler refers to a type of diagnostic imaging test called an ultrasound that uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the body.
What Are the Types of Ultrasound?
There are several types of ultrasound, of which Doppler is one. The chart below explains the various types.
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What Is a Doppler Ultrasound Used For?
A Doppler ultrasound is used to check:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or pain caused by intermittent claudication
- Blood clot in the legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT)
- Problems with leg veins, such as varicose veins
- Arterial injury
- Blood flow after a stroke
- Blood flow after blood vessel surgery
- Heart valve problems
- To map veins that may be used for blood vessel grafts
- The amount of blood flow to a transplanted kidney or liver
- To check a baby's heartbeat when it is inside the mother's uterus
- It can also be used to check blood flow in the umbilical cord, through the placenta, or in the brain of the fetus
- Guide treatment such as laser or radiofrequency ablation of abnormal veins
How Is a Doppler Ultrasound Performed?
A Doppler ultrasound test is performed in a doctor’s office or a hospital. To perform a Doppler ultrasound test:
Before the scan
- A patient will be asked to remove any jewelry that may affect the scan
- Patients may be asked to drink water before the test so the bladder is full
- Depending on the body part that needs to be examined, patients may need to remove all or most of their clothing
During the scan
- A small amount of gel is applied to the body part being checked to help sound waves pass through
- Patients need to lie still
- A thick wand (transducer) is pressed against the skin and moved around
- This does not hurt but people can feel pressure of the transducer against the skin
- For abdominal scans, patients lie on the back
- For chest scans, patients lie on the back with the neck slightly extended
- For head and neck scans, the head may be turned to one side
- For an arm or leg scan, the head will be slightly raised, the exposed arm or leg will be turned slightly outward
- Patients may sometimes be asked to lie on the stomach for a leg scan
- During pregnancy, patients lie on the back or on the left side with the belly exposed
- Images appear on a computer screen. The test usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
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