Doppler ultrasound shows the blocked or reduced blood flow in the major arteries and veins such as those of arms, legs and neck. It can help in diagnozing deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in leg veins) which can cause pulmonary embolism (blocked blood flow to the lungs). It is also used to check the health of the fetus.
When performing a Doppler ultrasound during pregnancy, a probe covered with gel is put on the skin over the uterus and connected to a speaker. The practitioner listens to the flow of blood through the fetus's heart. Doppler ultrasound of the arms and legs is done by placing blood pressure cuffs along the thigh, calf, or ankle. A paste is applied to the skin over the arteries being examined. Images are created as the probe is moved over each targeted area.
There are 3 basic types of Doppler ultrasounds. Continuous Wave Doppler:
In this type of Doppler ultrasound, two crystals are used by the transducer, one to send and the other to receive echoes. It is also known as bedside Doppler as it can be used at the bedside in the hospital for a fast estimate of the extent of blood vessel damage or disease. Duplex Doppler:
Duplex Doppler is most commonly used to evaluate the blood flow in various arteries and veins in the body and diagnose and blockage in an artery or a blood clot. Color Doppler:
In color Doppler, the Doppler sounds are converted into colors that are overlaid on the image of the blood vessel which represent the speed and direction of blood flow through the vessel. Power Doppler is a special type of color Doppler which is used to get some hard and impossible images.
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