What is Doppler Sonography?

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  • Written By: Eric Stolze
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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Doppler sonography, or Doppler ultrasound, is a medical imaging technique that uses ultrasound enhanced by the Doppler effect. The Doppler effect generally uses a change in the pitch of sound waves that are measured by an ultrasound-receiving device such as a transducer. Colored Doppler images often provide helpful information about the flow and movement of blood and inner areas of the body. This technique is commonly used during pregnancy to provide detailed images of a developing unborn baby. Other uses for Doppler sonography may include visual examinations of tendons, joints and muscles as well as internal organs.

Pregnant women may undergo an ultrasound for several reasons such as measurement of blood flow through the umbilical cord as well as evaluation of the heart or brain of the unborn baby. This test usually shows the size of a developing fetus and may provide information about the health of the fetus, such as the amount of oxygen received. Physicians may identify health conditions in some pregnant mothers, such as sickle cell anemia or preeclampsia, with the aid of this test.


Some doctors have patients undergo Doppler sonography to investigate a number of medical conditions. Patients with leg pain may have intermittent claudication and atherosclerosis that can appear on a Doppler sonography image in some instances. Varicose veins and other abnormalities of blood vessels can be investigated with this form of ultrasound. Blood clots and blood flow blockages may be identified with Doppler sonography in some cases. Some physicians use this form of ultrasound to provide images that guide their work during surgical procedures such as a blood vessel ablation.

A patient usually lies on his back or side during an ultrasound. Medical professionals normally apply a special Doppler gel to the skin near an area where images are desired. A transducer is typically placed against the gel-covered skin and moved around to get Doppler sonography images from several desired angles. Most Doppler ultrasound tests are completed in 30 to 60 minutes. Doctors may recommend that patients not wear jewelry during a test to reduce the chance of image distortion.

In some instances, patients have unreliable results from a Doppler sonography due to several factors. Patients who do not remain still during the procedure while images are being recorded may cause images to become distorted. In some cases, bones in the body can block the ultrasound signals used during the test. Reliable ultrasound images may be more difficult to obtain in obese individuals, and irregular heart rhythms may cause abnormal images of blood vessels.


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Post 3

@SkyWhisperer - I think Doppler ultrasounds have opened up a whole new world of wonder for seeing the developing fetuses.

Personally, I think the technology has helped to reshape cultural attitudes about whether to bring pregnancies to term, even in cases where the doctor finds health risks with the baby.

The fetus is still pulsating with life, and for some people it can be hard to end that life regardless even if there are health problems with it.

Post 2

@allenJo - Doppler technology is a godsend, in my opinion, for its use in examination of developing fetuses. I know that some people simply like the novelty use, like being able to see the baby’s beating heart, but there are serious medical uses for the technique that have developed over the years.

One of those techniques is called color Doppler sonography. With this technique color bands are used to identify various cross sections of the heart where different problems may exist. It makes it easier for doctors to pinpoint these problems and prevent them from getting worse.

Post 1

There is a hospital in our area that advertises services for preventive heart checkups. They use an ultrasound Doppler technology where they apply this device against your neck and it’s supposed to check for the possibility of blockages and things like that.

I thought it was pretty cool that the ultrasound technology was not just being used to show images of unborn babies but also to prevent potential heart problems.

I think this technique is probably better than any other method currently being used, like treadmills, colored dyes and things like that which doctors currently use as part of their checkups.

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