What Is a Doppler Test Used For?

Reviewed on 2/5/2021

A Doppler ultrasound, also known as Doppler ultrasonography and popularly known as a Doppler test
A Doppler ultrasound, also known as Doppler ultrasonography and popularly known as a Doppler test

A Doppler ultrasound, also known as Doppler ultrasonography and popularly known as a Doppler test, is an imaging test that uses high-frequency (ultrasonic) sound waves to show the blood flow through the blood vessels. It is done using a regular ultrasound machine but with a different setting. The only difference is that a regular ultrasound test cannot show the blow flow inside a blood vessel.

The Doppler ultrasound test is most often used to check

When do you need a Doppler ultrasound?

You may need a Doppler ultrasound if you have symptoms that suggest the possibility of a reduced blood flow or heart disease. These conditions include:

What happens during a Doppler ultrasound?

A Doppler ultrasound is usually performed in the following steps:

  • The radiologist asks you to lie down on your back on a table.
  • They ask to expose the area that needs to be tested.
  • They then apply a gel on the skin over the area.
  • Next, they will place a transducer (wand-like device) on the area. They keep on pressing gently with the transducer against the skin while moving along the area.
  • The device sends sound waves to the area and captures the echo. You may hear “swishing” sounds.
  • The sound waves get recorded and converted into images or graphs shown on a monitor.
  • Finally, the radiologist will wipe the gel off your skin.

This test usually takes anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes.

A Doppler ultrasound is a painless test and would not cause you any discomfort. If you feel any discomfort, tell your radiologist.

How do you prepare for a Doppler ultrasound test?

Your healthcare provider will let you know about any preparations before the test. You may need to

  • Remove jewelry at home before coming for the test.
  • Avoid smoking 2 hours before your test (nicotine can affect your test results).
  • Fast (not to eat or drink) for several hours before the test.

Does a Doppler ultrasound carry any risks?

A Doppler ultrasound is considered a risk-free test. It is safe even during pregnancy.

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References
Radiological Society of North America. Ultrasound - Venous (Extremities). https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=venousus

Stephens E. Peripheral Vascular Disease Workup. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/761556-workup#c5

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