doppler ultrasound

There are various types of ultrasound and of the popular ones is the Doppler Ultrasound. A doppler ultrasound is a special kind of ultrasound that uses the doppler effect to detect motion in the blood vessels.

A doppler ultrasound detects the difference in pitch as blood cells move through the blood vessels and convert the soundwave into a picture.

Types of Doppler Ultrasound

Doppler ultrasound consists of three types. They are;

  1. Spectral Doppler: It displays graphical velocities of blood flow over time.
  2. Color Doppler: Easy identification of blood vessel structures as a colored picture.
  3. Power Doppler: An ultrasound used to obtain more detailed information about the speed and velocity of blood flow.

Reasons for Performing a Doppler Ultrasound

A doppler ultrasound is recommended to help diagnose conditions that affect blood flow in the veins and arteries.

The doppler ultrasound helps to show if blood is moving in a particular area or not. Doppler ultrasound can be used to diagnose cases such as;

  1. Blood clot, narrowing of blood vessels and blockage.
  2. Vein conditions(varicose veins and venous insufficiency)
  3. Stroke which occurs when there is a blockage in the blood vessel which carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
  4. Peripheral artery disease or circulatory problem which is caused by the narrowing of the arteries.
  5. Aneurysms: this is an enlargement of the artery that is caused by arterial wall weakness.
  6. Congenital vascular malfunctions (abnormally formed blood vessels)

Doppler ultrasound can also be used to monitor and check for;

  1. Blood flow to transplanted organs such as the kidney.
  2. Guide to vein ablation treatments.
  3. Monitoring of blood flow during surgery.
  4. Monitor blood flow between mother and baby during pregnancy.

Who Performs the Doppler Ultrasound?

A doppler ultrasound is performed by an ultrasound technologist or technician. A diagnostic radiologist or radiologist is a medical professional who is trained to interpret ultrasound images.

They specialize in interpreting medical imaging tests including MRI scans, ultrasound and CT scans.

Preparation for a Doppler Ultrasound

To obtain the most accurate result of an imaging test, the steps you take in preparing for a doppler ultrasound scan are very important. You may be asked to refrain from using any form of nicotine products.

Sometimes you may be required to fast for at least 6 hours before the procedure. Other times, you may be asked to just take water.

The procedure of a Doppler Ultrasound

Ultrasounds are usually done in the hospital by a sonographer. The procedure of a Doppler ultrasound takes about 30-60 minutes during this time you are asked to do the following;

  1. Lie down on a table in the ultrasound room which usually has a dimmy light, to enable easy reading of the ultrasound images on the ultrasound screen.
  2. A special water-based gel will be rubbed on your skin to reduce friction and help the transducer slide across your skin. It is the transducer that sends and receives soundwaves to produce the image on the ultrasound screen.
  3. The technologist will move the transducer back and forth in the area the imaging is needed while looking at the screen
  4. The technologist will occasionally press the transducer down. While he’s doing this, you might be asked to change your position for a short while. This will enable the technologist to have clear imaging that will help diagnose your condition.
  5. The water-based gel is then wiped off from your skin.
  6. You may be asked to wait for a short while. Then the diagnostic radiologist will check if the imaging was complete.
  7. After an imaging test, the patient is usually asked to go home.

Risks or Complications Involved

There are no known risks of an ultrasound imaging exam but false results may be possible due to some certain factors. Some of the factors that can affect the quality of an ultra sound imaging include;

  1. Excessive movements
  2. Obesity
  3. Irregular heart rhymes
  4. Open wounds in the area


The Doppler ultrasound is not painful and is practically harmless. Depending on the situation, you may need to take more than one test. Results may be explained to you then or you may be asked to return. Either way, being scheduled for a Doppler Ultrasound should not cause panic.