Understanding Doppler Ultrasound and How It Works

Understanding Doppler Ultrasound and How It Works

Doppler ultrasound is an ultrasound test performed to monitor blood flow and blood vessels. This ultrasound test is non-invasive.

Ultrasound examinations (USG) are performed using sound waves to create medical images or visualization commonly used in the field of medicine.

One type of ultrasound that is often performed is Doppler ultrasound. This examination is carried out by reflecting high-frequency sound waves from the circulation of red blood cells.

What Is Doppler Ultrasound

Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic support examination that uses high-frequency sound waves to observe the condition of blood vessels and the movement of blood flow from the patient’s blood vessels, which can diagnose and evaluate the patient’s condition.

The Purpose of Doppler Ultrasound

Generally, Doppler ultrasound can help diagnose various conditions, such as:

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  • Detecting the growth of tumors in blood vessels in the arms or legs

  • Medical conditions related to the heart

  • Narrowing or blockage in the arteries

  • Artery narrowing or blockage (atherosclerosis)

  • Narrowing of blood vessels in the neck or carotid stenosis

  • Blockage of vein blood vessels or DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Types of Doppler Ultrasound Examinations

There are several types of Doppler ultrasound that parents can be aware of, such as:

  • Spectral Doppler

  • Color Doppler

  • Power Doppler

  • Duplex Ultrasonography

  • Transcranial Doppler Ultrasonography

Doppler Ultrasound Procedure

Like regular ultrasound procedures, there is no specific preparation required for Doppler ultrasound. However, if you are a smoker, the doctor may advise you not to smoke for several hours. This is because smoking can narrow blood vessels, potentially affecting the test results.

Doppler ultrasound does not cause pain or discomfort. This examination is safe and non-invasive.

During the Doppler ultrasound procedure, the patient will be asked to lie on a provided bed. Next, a blood pressure cuff will be placed on the area to be examined to measure pressure in various areas, such as the arms or legs.

Subsequently, the doctor will apply gel to the skin to facilitate the movement of the transducer. This procedure usually takes 30-45 minutes.

The Doppler ultrasound results will help the doctor determine the health of veins and arteries.

What’s the Difference Between Doppler Ultrasound and Regular Ultrasound?

Although they are both types of ultrasound, regular ultrasound and Doppler ultrasound have differences. Regular ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that are reflected to create images of organs on a monitor, while Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to estimate blood flow through blood vessels, which cannot be observed through regular ultrasound.

Additionally, Doppler ultrasound can also help estimate the speed of blood flow by measuring changes in frequency. Doppler ultrasound can also monitor treatments related to blood vessels or arteries and assist doctors in examining injuries to a person’s arteries.

When Should Doppler Ultrasound Be Performed?

Doppler ultrasound is recommended when a patient experiences symptoms of the mentioned diseases. Doppler ultrasound can also serve as an alternative examination for vascular examinations other than invasive angiography.

That’s the information about Doppler ultrasound that parents should be aware of. If you wish to undergo this examination, it’s best to consult with a doctor first.

This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Chitra Fatimah.


  • Oglat, A.A., et al. (2018). A Review of Medical Doppler Ultrasonography of Blood Flow in General and Especially in Common Carotid Artery. J Med Ultrasound. 2018 Jan-Mar; 26(1): 3–13. 
  • Hwang, J.Y. (2017). Doppler ultrasonography of the lower extremity arteries: anatomy and scanning guidelines. Ultrasonography. 2017 Apr; 36(2): 111–119.

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