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Vascular Dopplers

A Vascular Doppler is a medical diagnostic test used to review the body’s circulatory system to identify irregularities and concerns with blood flow in large arteries and veins. A Vascular Doppler units perform a range of very valuable vascular assessments to help diagnose vascular diseases and life threatening conditions. Vascular assessments are critical to evaluate the health of the vascular system and to help prevent serious cardiac events.

Vascular Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic test used to determine the amount of blood flow moving through blood vessels by aiming high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) at red blood cells and then receiving them back via the traducer/probe to measure for strength and frequency. There is an auditory and visual display to record the sounds and display pictures. Most ultrasound machines today have Doppler capabilities to measure blood flow and to evaluate veins and arteries in the organs that the ultrasound is visualizing. This is called Duplex ultrasound. Color images can be superimposed on the vessels to see which way the blood is flowing.

The term Doppler came from an Austrian physicist named Christian Doppler who discovered the Doppler Shift Principal in 1842. Sound waves from a moving object (the heart valves) can expand or be come compressed which changes the frequency. An example of sound waves changing pitch is witnessed when a train whistle passes. As the train is approaching someone, the pitch is higher and then becomes lower as the train goes away from the person.

Vascular Doppler units range from basic units that perform high level vascular assessments to more advanced models that additionally perform diabetic foot assessments, ankle brachial pressure index tests (ABPI), peripheral arterial disease tests (PAD), toe-brachial index tests (TBI), segmental vascular assessments, stress tests, and more. These tests help identify vascular conditions that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and even death.

Vascular Doppler units are available in a range of sizes from portable handheld unit to larger cart/table models. Vascular Doppler units can be manual, semi-auto, or automatic. Some models have a speaker to listen for the results while some have colorful displays and they can be integrated with computers.

Vascular Doppler tests are non-invasive and painless.  The vascular unit uses sound waves to produce images of the body’s veins and arteries for diagnosis. During a Doppler ultrasound, the physician or sonographer uses a small hand-held transducer (probe) to produce the sound waves on the desired areas.  Depending on the results of the vascular ultrasound, the physician may order a more invasive procedure (arteriography and venography) to inject dye into the vessels for x-ray evaluation.

The following conditions can be detected by vascular Dopplers:

  • Plaque buildup
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Poorly functioning valves in your leg veins known as venous insufficiency due to the buildup of blood in the extremities
  • Heart valve defects and congenital heart disease
  • Arterial occlusion
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Aneurysms
  • Artery stenosis such as the carotid arteries
  • Monitor blood flow through organs
  • Evaluate if a person is a good candidate for angioplasty
  • Evaluate whether a graft or bypass is working
  • Tumors or malformations
  • Reduced, absent or excessive flow in an organ
  • Placental blood flow

Vascular ultrasound is used in children to:

  • help the placement of a needle or catheter into a vein or artery to help avoid complications
  • evaluate the connection between an artery and a vein such as in congenital vascular malformations (arteriovenous malformations or fistula).

What are the limitations of Vascular Ultrasound?

  • Deep vessels and smaller vessels are hard to see and may require a CT or MRI
  • Califications distort or obstruct the picture or sound
  • Does not transmit through bone

Features to look for in Vascular Dopplers:

  • High Resolution Color Display
  • Bi-directional Waveform generated with Audio Scaling features
  • Data Storage on Micro SD Card
  • Integrated Charging & Connectivity
  • High Sensitivity Interchangeable Probes
  • Dynamic Digital Noise Reduction
  • Long battery life and low risk of overcharge
  • Heart rate calculation that is accurate
  • Audio bandwidth and power
  • Cable interface type
  • Documentation and recording software
  • Durable, light and portable with an abundance of convenient features
  • Headphone plug for doctor or for hearing impaired
  • Speakers
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