What Are the Uses for Color Doppler Ultrasound?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 May 2019
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Color Doppler ultrasound can detect blood flow in vessels and arteries, and blockages caused by plaque or blood clots. It is used to diagnose atherosclerosis and deep vein thrombosis. The equipment also provides useful information on blood flow after strokes, organ transplant surgeries, bypass surgeries, and to check blood supply to a fetus. If an emergency room doctor suspects testicular torsion, color Doppler ultrasound might be used to check blood flow in the scrotum. This equipment also provides color images of inflammation in tendons, ligaments, and joints.

Testicular torsion is an acute condition restricting blood flow to one or both testes. It occurs when a testicle rotates inside the body, causing the cord that carries seminal fluid to the organ to twist and cut off blood supply. This is considered an emergency situation requiring surgery within a few hours to prevent the loss of the testicle. Color Doppler ultrasound can identify the condition or rule out the cause of severe testicular pain.


Color Doppler ultrasound also measures blood flow, speed, and direction in patients suffering from atherosclerosis. This vascular disease is caused by fatty deposits that build up in the carotid artery leading from the heart to the brain. Sound waves produced by the ultrasound machine might help doctors view the location of plaque and determine the most effective treatment. Color Doppler ultrasound produces images of the artery and can be connected to a speaker to enable a doctor to hear echoes of blood movement.

This medical equipment might be useful to reveal inflammation of ligaments, tendons, and joints caused by ankylosing spondylitis, a condition causing fluid accumulation in tissue. Doppler ultrasound can identify this disease when a patient complains of pain and loss of function. It might also reveal lesions on tissue or the surface of bones.

Blood flow in grafted veins can be viewed via color Doppler ultrasound to determine if the graft is working as intended. Some surgeons use the equipment during surgery to monitor flow during organ transplant operations. When used to diagnose deep vein thrombosis, ultrasound might pinpoint the exact location of a blood clot restricting blood flow to a vital organ. The most common areas for clots include the legs, arms, and neck.

Color Doppler ultrasound represents a non-invasive tool to monitor blood movement and help diagnose a patient’s condition. It does not expose the patient to radiation and is considered less expensive than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A disadvantage of the equipment might come from background noise that interferes with an accurate image and possible tissue damage because sound waves might be absorbed as heat.


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