A Doppler ultrasound exam is a diagnostic test that can detect blocked arteries within the legs. This condition is also called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins, usually in the legs, and disrupts or blocks blood flow. It usually only occurs in one leg at a time.
A doppler ultrasound exam can help find these blood clots because it utilizes imaging technology to determine the speed and direction of blood flow within the veins. An ultrasound exam is a painless, noninvasive, and accurate diagnostic imaging tool. The exam can be completed in a matter of minutes by a Registered Vascular Technologist.
There are symptoms and risk factors for deep vein thrombosis that may prompt your doctor to request a doppler ultrasound exam. These include the following:
- Pain or swelling in leg
- Leg is warm to the touch
- Red or bluish discoloration of the skin in affected leg
- Vein injuries
- Increased estrogen
- Chronic illness
- Limited movement/confinement
- Family history
When left untreated, deep vein thrombosis can lead to other serious, life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary embolism, or PE. PE occurs when a piece of a blood clot breaks off and becomes lodged in the lungs. Therefore, it is important to determine as soon as possible if a blockage is present within the veins.
A doppler ultrasound exam is a quick and accurate way to test for DVT. After the technologist performs the exam, the results are sent to a physician for final interpretation and diagnosis. For more information on deep vein thrombosis, click here.
- Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352557