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What is an Arterial Doppler Ultrasound?

Arterial Doppler Ultrasound

Arterial Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging test used to visualize the blood flow in the arteries, by bouncing high frequency sound waves(ultrasound) over the circulating blood cells.

What are the Types of Arterial Doppler Tests?

  • Color Doppler ultrasound: This type of study shows the direction and speed of the blood flow by changing the soundwaves into different colors.
  • Pulse wave Doppler ultrasound: This type of study uses intermittent bursts of ultrasound waves to measure exact flow velocity and degree of stenosis in the arteries.
  • Continuous Doppler ultrasound: This type of study uses continuous ultrasound waves to measure blood flow at high velocity and can identify blocked arteries.

Why is an Arterial Doppler Study Indicated? 

This test is performed to rule out the following conditions with respective symptoms;

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Blood clots 
  • Thromboembolism
  • Heart valve defects
  • Arterial occlusion
  • Arterial aneurysms
  • Arterial stenosis
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Arterial injury or trauma
  • Cerebral arteries and other haemorrhage 
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Renal artery stenosis

Who Requires an Arterial Doppler Ultrasound?

This is a diagnostic measure advised by your doctor or specialist, if the following complaints are observed in patients: 

  • Patients above 50-60 years of age with or without comorbidities
  • Persistent mild or moderate chest discomfort
  • Breathing difficulty intermittent in nature
  • Fatigue
  • Heaviness and giddiness
  • Severe vomiting and nausea
  • Edema
  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs
  • Intense cramps in the limbs
  • Pain, pulselessness, pallor, paralysis
  • Discoloration and perfusion in the skin

What are the Benefits of an Arterial Doppler Ultrasound Over other Diagnostic Methods?

The benefits of an arterial Doppler ultrasound include: 

  • Alternative to more invasive procedures such as angiography etc
  • No prior preparation is required for the test, can be done anytime
  • Cost effective and considered safe
  • Comparatively less radiation exposure

What are the pre-requisites for the test?

There are no specific preparations for the test, however a few general measures to be followed include:

  • Do not smoke at least 2-3 hours prior to the test because nicotine will cause narrowing in the blood vessels and alters the diagnosis.
  • Diagnosis of particular conditions may require fasting for a certain period before the test. Otherwise, the scan can be done without need for fasting.
  • Jewelry and heavy clothing need to be removed before entering the radiology room.
  • Most medicines will not alter the scan results, so patients can take their regular medicines with the exception of anti-coagulants just before the procedure.

How is an Arterial Doppler Ultrasound Test Performed?

The arterial doppler ultrasound is done in the following steps:

  • You will lie down on the procedure table exposing the area to be scanned.
  • Water-soluble gel will be applied over the prepared area.
  • A transducer is moved over the area sending high frequency sound waves which trace the blood flow, speed and direction.
  • The wave variations are recorded and converted into a graph and images using a computer.
  • The test may require 30-60 minutes depending on the limb and part of the body to be scanned.
  • Once the final images or result is recorded, the gel applied on the patient will be wiped off.

Interpretation of the Arterial Doppler Ultrasound Findings

  • If test results are normal, this indicates the blood vessels are fine, clear, patent and intact.
  • If test results are abnormal, then it will report the underlying causes like narrowing, occlusions or bleeding in the vessel.
  • Your doctor will review the findings with you at your next appointment.

Other Cardiology Procedure

  • American Board of Internal Medichine
  • American Board of Vascular Medicine
  • Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions