| Reasons for Test
| Possible Complications
| What to Expect
| Call Your Doctor
A Doppler ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to examine parts of the body. It looks at the motion of fluids in the blood vessels.
Reasons for Test
Doppler ultrasound is used to:
- View the flow of blood through vessels and/or the heart
- View and evaluate blockages to blood flow, such as clots
- Assess build-up of plaque inside a vessel
Monitor blood flow through repaired blood vessels such as
- Examine a baby during a pregnancy
In most cases, there are no complications with this test.
What to Expect
Your doctor may do the following:
- A physical exam
- Blood or urine tests
In some cases your doctor may instruct you to:
- Fast for 8-12 hours before the test. This will decrease the amount of gas in your intestines and make organs easier to see.
- Have a full bladder before the test. You may need to drink 6 or more glasses of water without going to the bathroom.
smoking. Smoking can interfere with test results.
You will lie on a table. Your doctor will put a gel on the skin over the area that will be examined. The gel helps the sound waves travel between the machine and your body.
The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer. It looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off your internal organs and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are changed into images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. Photographs of the images may be taken.
You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath during the exam.
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The gel will be cleaned from your body. You will be able to return to normal activities in most cases.
About 30 minutes to 1 hour
A radiologist will examine the images after the test. Your doctor will let you know the results and talk to you about treatment.
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if symptoms become worse.
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
General ultrasound imaging.
Radiologic Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at:
http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?PG=genus. Updated June 23, 2014. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Radiation-emitting products. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/ucm115357.htm. Updated December 16, 2014. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
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