Vascular Doppler and Arterial Doppler Ultrasounds
The detection and monitoring of medical issues concerning blood flow and heart disease is becoming easier to diagnose with the use of the Vascular Doppler and the Arterial Doppler ultrasound test.
The Vascular Doppler ultrasound test takes real time video that displays how the patient’s blood is flowing through the arteries. This makes it easier to detect narrowing of the arteries, blockages, and blood clots. It also helps with monitoring the progression of arterial disease in a patient.
A Vascular Doppler is a special application of an ultrasound. It is used specifically for studying veins and arteries by measuring the speed of blood cells as they move through the veins.
A transducer is placed on the skin of the patient, and sends sound waves that ultimately create an image of the arteries. The movement of blood cells causes the sound waves to bounce off the fluid and tissue, and reflect back (echo) to the transducer – this is the Doppler Effect. A computer gathers and processes the sound waves, and creates graphs or color pictures to show a representation of how the blood is flowing through the veins and arteries. These results are recorded exactly as they display on the video monitor during the actual test. The technician who conducts the test, watches the monitor to see what area is being viewed and that the images are good enough to be used for evaluation purposes.
The arteries and veins in the legs, the abdomen, the head, and neck are the most common areas that a vascular Doppler is used on.
The vascular Doppler is a non-invasive technique, the only thing that penetrates the skin are sound waves. The patient may hear a high pitched pulsing sound while the ultrasound test is being done.
The results are sent to a radiologist who analyzes the video recording and prepares a report for the physician.
The arterial Doppler test uses the same method as the vascular Doppler except that it is designed specifically for testing outer extremities such as arms and legs.
An Arterial Doppler test is used to evaluate the blood flow to and through the upper extremities (arms), and the lower extremities (legs). It records the patient’s blood pressure of the arteries in the arms or legs along with taking ultrasound images.
The purpose of an Arterial Doppler test is to see if there is a lack of blood flow through the area or areas in question, as well as what and where a blockage is. A blockage could be the result of plaque or cholesterol that has built up inside the arterial wall, which could decrease the amount of blood flow through those areas.
This test is commonly used to evaluate the cause of symptoms such as:
- Numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
- Fatigue and heaviness in the arms and legs.
- To check for the possibility of thoracic outlet syndrome.
The procedure that is used to conduct an Arterial Doppler ultrasound involves placing blood pressure cuffs on the thigh, calf, ankle, and different points on the arms that will record the blood pressure in each extremity. The patients pulse is also recorded at each of the extremities. A paste is put on the skin at the location or locations where the arteries are to be examined, and a transducer is moved over those areas. The patient will be asked to do a series of predetermined exercises. At the same time, the blood pressure and ultrasound results for the arteries in question, are repeatedly recorded. This test can also serve to evaluate if there is any narrowing of the vessels, and the amount of narrowing.
Arterial Doppler testing could also be performed to evaluate an injury to the arteries, or to monitor arterial reconstruction or bypass surgery grafts.
The Arterial Doppler test is a non-invasive test that will take 60 to 90 minutes to complete and is completely painless.
Fetal Obstetric Doppler
Ultrasound imaging, also known as ultrasound scanning or sonography does not use ionizing radiation and is completely safe for both mother and baby. The Obstetric Doppler is more commonly known as Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging, and has been in use for evaluating pregnancies for over 40 years.
The Obstetric Ultrasound (Fetal Obstetric Doppler) displays a continuous picture of a moving fetus taken in real-time, and records an audio and video of the test so that a Radiologist can analyze, evaluate, and create a report for the physician who requested the test.
How it Works
High frequency sound waves are emitted using a transducer that is moved around on the skin of a pregnant women’s abdomen. The ultrasound beams scan the fetus or embryo within the woman’s uterus, along with the mother’s uterus and ovaries. The images are reflected back to the transducer in thin slices. When the split images are received, they are put back together and displayed as a single picture and/or video on a monitor screen. Audio of the fetus’ heart beat is also recorded during the ultrasound process.
The real-time pictures, audio, and video are all recorded at the same. The Obstetric Doppler ultrasound gathers images and audio information from the fetus such as the fetal heart beat, blood vessels, umbilical cord, as well as malformations so that any medical concerns can be accurately diagnosed and evaluated. It also makes it possible for the physician to assess the age, size, and growth of the fetus.
An early pregnancy Obstetric Doppler ultrasound requires that the pregnant mother have a full bladder for the test. This will likely cause some discomfort from the pressure of the full bladder, but it is necessary to get clear and accurate pictures of the fetus.
Ultrasounds, including Obstetric Doppler ultrasounds, are safe, accurate, and non-invasive.
Reasons for an Obstetric Doppler Ultrasound
- To diagnose and confirm a pregnancy in the early stages.
- To determine the reason for vaginal bleeding in an early pregnancy. The ultrasound may be able to discover if there is a problem with the fetus, or if there is a missed abortion and blighted ovum.
- To determine the gestational age.
- To assess the size of the fetus.
- To confirm a possible malformation.
- To assess placental localization in cases where diabetes, fetal hydrops, Rh isoimmuniztion, and intrauterine growth retardation are suspected.
- To determine if there are multiple pregnancies.
- To assess the possibility of excessive or decreased amniotic fluid – a medical issue that could have an adverse effect on the fetus.
- To diagnose an intrauterine death.
- To confirm fetal presence in uncertain areas.
- To evaluate fetal movements.
- To diagnose uterine and pelvic abnormalities during pregnancy.
- To evaluate the position of the fetus.
- To evaluate the position of the placenta.
- To assess fetal well-being.
Obstetrical ultrasounds are not capable of identifying all forms of fetal abnormalities. If an abnormality is suspected, but could not be confirmed by an Obstetrical Ultrasound, a non radiological test such as amniocentesis may need to be performed. With an amniocentesis test, fluid is taken from the sac surrounding the fetus, or a sample of the placental tissue (chorionic villus) is removed for the purpose of determining the health of the fetus. This test may also be requested in the case of a high-risk pregnancy.
The aim of any Obstetrical Doppler (ultrasound) test is to verify the health of the fetus as well as the pregnant mother. Its purpose is to find any medical issues that may be suspected, or to monitor confirmed medical concerns for continual evaluation of the situation.