Treatments and tests

Doppler ultrasound

What is a Doppler ultrasound?

Doppler ultrasound is a special type of ultrasound which is used to look at blood flow.

A Doppler ultrasound machine has a hand-held scanner which is connected to a computer. It uses soundwaves to make pictures of the blood flow in your major arteries and veins.

Benefits of a Doppler ultrasound

  • Non-invasive.
  • Generally painless.
  • Does not use radiation.
  • Can show if you have any blocked arteries in your neck, arms and legs.
  • Can show if you have any blood clots in the veins in your legs.
  • Can show the amount and speed of blood flow in your veins and arteries.
  • Can be used instead of some more invasive procedures. 

Risks of a Doppler ultrasound

There are no known risks.

Preparation

  • Bring your referral letter or request form and all X-rays taken within the last 2 years with you.
  • Leave the X-rays with the radiology staff, as the doctor may need to look at them. The radiology staff will tell you when these are ready to be picked up.
  • Leave all jewellery and valuables at home.

Before coming in for the Doppler ultrasound

  • You may be asked not to smoke before the Doppler ultrasound.

Just before the Doppler ultrasound

  • You may be given a gown to wear.
  • You may be asked to remove any metal objects.

Tell your doctor before the procedure

  • If you have diabetes.

What happens during a Doppler ultrasound

You will be asked to lie on a table, usually on your side or on your back. You will be covered with a blanket, except for the part of your body being scanned.

The ultrasound staff will put a gel on your skin over the part of your body being scanned, so that there is good contact between the probe and your body. They will then place the hand held scanner on top of the gel, moving it around the area being scanned. Sometimes they will need to press, which may be uncomfortable, however this should not hurt.

You will need to lie very still while the staff are scanning. You may hear the sound of the blood flowing through your blood vessels.

When your ultrasound is finished the staff will give you something to clean off the gel and ask you to wait while they check the pictures.

A Doppler ultrasound usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour, including time taken to get ready. Some scans may take longer.

Consent

You have the right to refuse an examination and may do so if you wish. A written consent is generally not required for a Doppler ultrasound.

When will I get the results?

The amount of time it takes for you to get your results will differ depending on where you get your scans done. The radiology doctor will look at the pictures and write a report. The pictures may be on films or on a CD.

Ask whether you should wait to take the pictures and report with you, or whether they will be sent to your doctor.

Your doctor will need to discuss the report with you. You will need to make an appointment to do this.

After a Doppler ultrasound

You will be able to go soon after the Doppler ultrasound is finished and can continue with normal activities.

Costs of a Doppler ultrasound

For an Australian patient in a public hospital in Western Australia:

  • public patient – no cost to you unless advised otherwise
  • private patient – costs can be claimed through Medicare and your health insurance provider

For a patient in a private hospital or private imaging site in Western Australia – ask your doctor or the staff where you are having your test done.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

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