A Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of how a person’s blood is flowing through their veins and arteries. The goal is often to check blood flow through the arms and legs.
During a Doppler ultrasound, a handheld device emits sound waves that bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells. The reflected sound waves create an image of the way the blood is flowing.
There are several types of Doppler ultrasound:
What is it used for?
Healthcare professionals use Doppler ultrasound to learn about a person’s blood flow, particularly whether there are any blockages or other irregularities.
The results can help doctors diagnose various conditions, including certain heart conditions.
For example, doctors use Doppler ultrasound to check for:
blood vessel damage
irregularities in the structure of the heart
blockages, such as deep vein thrombosis
narrowing or hardening of blood vessels, which can interrupt blood flow to the feet and legs
superficial thrombophlebitis, which involves inflammation in a leg vein
vascular tumors in the legs
thromboangiitis obliterans, a rare disease that causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to swell
any changes in heart function, often alongside an electrocardiogram
any changes in blood flow following surgery
any changes in blood flow during pregnancy or in the fetus