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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Doppler Ultrasound

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Bones above the area being studied or gas in the intestines, which may interfere with the pictures.
  • Not being able to remain still during the test.
  • Extreme obesity.
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or heart disease, which may cause changes in blood flow patterns even though the blood vessels are not abnormal.
  • Having a cold arm or leg. Blood flow through that limb may be slowed.
  • Having an open wound in the area that needs to be viewed.

What To Think About

  • Producing accurate test results with Doppler ultrasound requires a skilled examiner. The scans are usually read within a short period of time in case repeat tests are needed.
  • Because Doppler ultrasound requires a person to hold very still, some children may need to be sedated so that their movements do not interfere with the results.
  • Angiography and venography are X-ray tests that require the injection of contrast material. In many cases, Doppler ultrasound may be done instead of angiography or venography because it is faster, less expensive, and noninvasive. If results from a Doppler ultrasound are inconclusive, an angiography or venography test may be done. Angiography is usually more accurate than Doppler ultrasound and is considered the most definitive test for evaluating blood flow through an artery. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and computed tomography angiography (CTA) may be done instead of conventional angiography because these tests are less invasive and easier to perform than conventional angiography. In some cases, venography may be needed to confirm a suspected vein problem.
  • A Doppler ultrasound may be used to check many body organs. It can also be done safely during pregnancy.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

  • Roman AS, Pernoll ML (2007). Rh isoimmunization and other blood group incompatibilities section of Late pregnancy complications. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, pp. 282–287. New York: McGraw-Hill.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHoward Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Last RevisedNovember 29, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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