A Doppler ultrasound is a test that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to measure the amount of blood flow through your arteries and veins, usually those that supply blood to your arms and legs.
Vascular flow studies, also known as blood flow studies, can detect abnormal flow within an artery or blood vessel. This can help to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including blood clots and poor circulation. A Doppler ultrasound can be used as part of a blood flow study.
A Doppler ultrasound is a risk-free and pain-free procedure that requires little preparation. The test provides your doctor with important information about the flow of blood through your major arteries and veins. It can also reveal blocked or reduced blood flow through narrowed areas in the arteries, which could eventually lead to a stroke.
Why Do I Need a Doppler Ultrasound?
You doctor may suggest a Doppler ultrasound exam if you show signs of decreased blood flow in the arteries or veins of your legs, arms, or neck. A reduced amount of blood flow may be due to a blockage in the artery, a blood clot inside a blood vessel, or an injury to a blood vessel.
The Doppler ultrasound exam may be ordered if you show signs of:
- deep vein thrombosis, a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body (usually in the leg or hip regions)
- superficial thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the veins due to a blood clot in a vein just below the skin’s surface
- arteriosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet
- thromboangiitis obliterans, a rare disease in which the blood vessels of the hands and feet become inflamed and swollen
- vascular tumors in your arms or legs
A Doppler ultrasound can help determine the blood pressure within your arteries and show how much blood is currently flowing through your arteries and veins.