A Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive test that utilises reflected sound waves to detect the pattern of blood flow. This technology helps to show how blood flows through your veins and arteries, especially in the neck, arms and legs. With a Doppler ultrasound, doctors can detect blocked or narrowing of veins and arteries that restrict the flow of blood, which can be a risk factor for stroke when occurring in the neck. You don't have to worry about major risks associated with taking the test since you are likely to feel little to no discomfort. Here are some key facts for beginners to know about Doppler ultrasound.
What the Test Is
The Doppler ultrasound procedure can be performed in various sections in a hospital, including the radiology department, ultrasound department or peripheral vascular laboratory. Moreover, since the procedure requires contact with the body, you might have to remove your clothes. The test is usually done in under an hour, and you may resume your day-to-day activities unless your doctor says otherwise. For example, your results might be affected by factors such as severe obesity, irregular heart rhythms and cardiovascular diseases, all of which can warrant a second test. Remember that your test results may be saved for future analysis.
How It Works
The ultrasound equipment (transducer) emits sound waves that bounce off of your blood cells. The waves travel through the blood vessels and return to the transducer. The data collected by the equipment is recorded and subsequently displayed on a screen. The speed with which the sound waves are relayed back to the machine determines the speed of your blood flow. If the sound waves return faster, then there might be an anomaly with your blood vessels — most likely a blockage. Normal results will show no signs of closure, clots and narrowing of vessels, which implies that your blood flow is okay.
Why the Test Is Critical
When your blood vessels start to narrow, they inhibit the normal flow of blood in body parts such as legs, arms and the neck. The blockage can lead to skin discolouration. Common causes of skin discolouration include injury, skin inflammation and illness. By performing the Doppler ultrasound procedure, your doctor will make a proper diagnosis of the problem. Also, narrowing of blood vessels can cause leg and foot ulcers and pain when walking or when taking a rest. All these conditions can be corrected at an early stage when you perform a Doppler ultrasound test.