What You Need To Know About A Doppler Ultrasound

Posted on: 30 July 2020


Most people are familiar with traditional ultrasounds that are primarily utilised to create an image of a foetus in the uterus or take images of other internal structures of the body. These images are formed when sound waves deflect off the organs. A Doppler ultrasound differs from the conventional ultrasound by imaging moving objects rather than focusing on the organs. Hence, the Doppler ultrasound is a test that shows images of blood flowing through the vessels. If your doctor has prescribed this test, here is a summary on what you need to know about a Doppler ultrasound.

What are the different types of Doppler ultrasounds?

This test can be used to diagnose a range of medical conditions. Thus, there are different types of Doppler ultrasounds depending on what the health care professional is trying to rule out. A few types include the following:

  1. A colour test: When this Doppler ultrasound is carried out, the computer translates the sounds waves into different colours. These colours indicate various things such as the direction of the blood flor, the speed of the blood flow and so on. In recent years, an advanced alternative of the colour test has come about in the form of a power Doppler ultrasound. This test is more detailed about the blood flow than its colour Doppler ultrasound counterpart is. Nonetheless, it does not provide any information regarding the direction of the flow and this data could be crucial for in some instances. Hence, the colour test is still relevant.
  2. A spectral test: Instead of translating the information regarding blood flow into colour pictures, the spectral test converts the sound waves into graph form. This interpretation helps with determining the degree of blockage in a blood vessel.
  3. A continuous-wave test: As the name suggests, this type of Doppler test entails the continual sending and receiving of sound waves. Since the information is being collected continuously in real-time, the continuous wave Doppler offers the highest accuracy when measuring blood flow.

What do Doppler ultrasounds check for?

Generally speaking, a Doppler ultrasound will be prescribed if your doctor believes that your health condition is being caused by decreased blood flow or an outright blockage in your blood vessels. With that in mind, Doppler ultrasounds are used to check for the following:

  • Heart function — The Doppler will be carried out in tandem with an electrocardiogram, which functions to measure the electrical signals in one's heart.
  • Deep vein thrombosis — The Doppler ultrasounds will check for clots in the veins in one's legs.
  • Peripheral arterial disease — The Doppler test will check for any narrowing of arteries in the legs and arms of the patient. 

To learn more about ultrasounds, talk to your doctor.