FirstHealth of the Carolinas

Search Health Library


More headlines...

Doppler Ultrasound

(Doppler Ultrasonography)


A Doppler ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to examine parts of the body. It looks at the motion of fluids in the blood vessels.

Major Abdominal Arteries and Veins

Aorta and Vena Cava
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Test    TOP

Doppler ultrasound is used to:

  • View the flow of blood through vessels and/or the heart
  • View and evaluate blockages to blood flow, such as clots
  • Assess build-up of plaque inside a vessel
  • Monitor blood flow through repaired blood vessels such as bypass grafts
  • Examine a baby during a pregnancy

Possible Complications    TOP

In most cases, there are no complications with this test.

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Test

Your doctor may do the following:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood or urine tests

In some cases your doctor may instruct you to:

  • Fast for 8-12 hours before the test. This will decrease the amount of gas in your intestines and make organs easier to see.
  • Have a full bladder before the test. You may need to drink 6 or more glasses of water without going to the bathroom.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking can interfere with test results.

Description of the Test

You will lie on a table. Your doctor will put a gel on the skin over the area that will be examined. The gel helps the sound waves travel between the machine and your body.

The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer. It looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off your internal organs and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are changed into images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. Photographs of the images may be taken.

You may be asked to change positions or hold your breath during the exam.

Ultrasound of Abdomen

Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

After Test    TOP

The gel will be cleaned from your body. You will be able to return to normal activities in most cases.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About 30 minutes to 1 hour

Will It Hurt?    TOP


Results    TOP

A radiologist will examine the images after the test. Your doctor will let you know the results and talk to you about treatment.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

After the test, call your doctor if symptoms become worse.

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America


The College of Family Physicians of Canada


General ultrasound imaging. Radiologic Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 2, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.
Radiation-emitting products. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 6, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 5/2/2014
(800) 213-3284FirstHealth @ Facebook.comFirstHealth @ Twitter.comFirstHealth RSS Newsfeed
Working Together, First in Quality, First in Health
Site MapPrivacy PolicyTerms & ConditionsHelpEmployees  © FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Inc.