Doppler Flow Studies
What is a Doppler flow study?Doppler flow is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel. Waveforms of the blood flow are shown on the ultrasound screen and are used to assess blood flow in the umbilical vein and arteries, fetal brain, and fetal heart. Doppler flow is sometimes called Doppler velocimetry. A Doppler flow study is often used when a fetus is at risk for growth problems (being small), or in high risk pregnancies where blood flow may be altered. The waveforms may show that blood flow in the umbilical vessels of a small fetus is decreased, indicating that the fetus may not be receiving enough blood, nutrients, and oxygen from the placenta.
How is a Doppler flow study performed?A specialized ultrasound machine is usually used for this assessment. The ultrasound transducer is placed on the mother's abdomen using a gel to help conduct the sound waves. The test takes several minutes to assess the flow in each blood vessel being tested. The test does not harm the fetus. If the test shows a decreased amount of blood flow, other testing may be needed.
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