A Doppler ultrasound is a noninvasive test that can be used to estimate the blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off circulating red blood cells. A regular ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images, but can't show blood flow.
A Doppler ultrasound may help diagnose many conditions, including:
- Blood clots
- Poorly functioning valves in your leg veins, which can cause blood or other fluids to pool in your legs (venous insufficiency)
- Heart valve defects and congenital heart disease
- A blocked artery (arterial occlusion)
- Decreased blood circulation into your legs (peripheral artery disease)
- Bulging arteries (aneurysms)
- Narrowing of an artery, such as in your neck (carotid artery stenosis)
A Doppler ultrasound can estimate how fast blood flows by measuring the rate of change in its pitch (frequency). During a Doppler ultrasound, a technician trained in ultrasound imaging (sonographer) presses a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined, moving from one area to another as necessary.
This test may be done as an alternative to more-invasive procedures, such as angiography, which involves injecting dye into the blood vessels so that they show up clearly on X-ray images.
A Doppler ultrasound test may also help your doctor check for injuries to your arteries or to monitor certain treatments to your veins and arteries.
Dec. 31, 2019
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Duplex ultrasound. Society for Vascular Surgery. https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-tests/duplex-ultrasound. Accessed Dec. 3, 2019.
- Ultrasound - vascular. Radiological Society of North America. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?PG=vascularus. Accessed Dec. 3, 2019.
- Mitchell E. Noninvasive diagnosis of arterial disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 3, 2019.
- Ferri FF. Diagnostic imaging. In: Ferri's Best Test: A Practical Guide to Clinical Laboratory Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 3, 2019.