What is a Doppler test?

A Doppler test is a noninvasive medical test used to examine blood flow through major arteries. Sometimes called a Doppler ultrasound, the test helps doctors identify blockages that can lead to health complications, such as a stroke. Doppler images also help doctors diagnose conditions such as arterial occlusion, blood clots, tumors, and problems with arteries and veins.

A transducer, which is a portable device, is used to perform the test. Coated with water-soluble Doppler gel, the transducer is placed on the skin, above a blood vessel. It emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the veins or arteries being tested. If the speed of the blood flow changes, the frequency of the sound will change markedly. Much like the way a radar gun measures driving speed, the Doppler test measures the speed and efficiency of blood flow. If blood flow is smooth and uninterrupted, the test is normal. If a blockage is present, the Doppler test results will return an abnormal report.

Abnormal results can indicate a variety of problems. Some potential problems include arterial blockage, closed veins, or tumors. A physician is required to interpret the results of the Doppler test.

Doppler testing is also used during pregnancy to monitor blood flow. Proper flow from mother to baby is critical to the baby's health. The test also allows doctors to monitor and evaluate the baby's heartbeat. The machine can be rented waiting for parents, which allows them to do the Doppler test at home and listen to their baby at any time.

Doppler ultrasound is sometimes done color . This version of the test converts the sound wave results into colored results. Color tests are sometimes used to identify cancerous tumors that are identified because they usually show increased blood flow. While doctors are experts at reading both types of tests, the color version is often easier to read.

Doppler tests require almost no preparation on the part of the patient. The patient simply removes clothing from the area to be tested. Since nicotine can affect Doppler test results by causing the veins to constrict, patients may be required to refrain from smoking for a period before the test. Being a non-invasive test, the Doppler test causes little or no discomfort, and there is little or no risk associated with the procedure.

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