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Doppler examination - when is it necessary to examine the venous capacity?

Doppler ultrasonography is now recognised as the most important test in the diagnosis of venous diseases of the lower limbs, most notably venous thromboembolism (venous thrombosis). Doppler examination uses a method of imaging using changes in the frequency of ultrasound waves.

During a Doppler examination, the doctor can observe the direction and speed of the blood flow. Thanks to Doppler ultrasonography it is possible to assess the condition of the superficial and deep veins of the lower limbs.

The examination allows us to assess the degree of possible damage to venous vessels and exclude the existence of thrombosis, and in the case of examination of arteries - to determine their condition and exclude atherosclerosis within them.

Doppler examination - what does it consist in?

Doppler ultrasound is named after Johan Doppler, an Austrian physicist who was the first to describe the phenomenon of changing frequency of waves commonly used in this type of ultrasonography. Doppler ultrasound is a painless examination, which does not cause any difficulties or discomfort for patients.

This examination is performed using a specialised apparatus equipped with a Doppler head. The doctor uses an ultrasound machine, whose head is placed in the places where blood vessels are examined.

It does not require prior preparation - the exception is the examination of the abdominal aorta and iliac arteries, before which about 3-4 hours should not take any food, because it can distort the image. Doppler ultrasound usually takes about 30-40 minutes, and its cost is covered by the National Health Fund, provided that you have a referral from your doctor, which can be issued even by a family doctor.

It is also possible to perform the Doppler examination privately - then we will be charged for it, which ranges from 90 zł to 250 zł, depending mainly on the city and the reputation of the medical facility.

Doppler examination - indications

Doppler examination, also called Doppler examination and Doppler ultrasonography, is the basis for the diagnosis of various diseases associated with the dysfunction of the circulatory system.

It uses the Doppler effect - the phenomenon of change in the frequency of waves, thanks to which it is possible to determine the speed of blood, as well as detect the presence of possible thrombotic changes.

  • The main advantage of this examination is its accuracy, non-invasiveness and lack of contraindications - it is safe for people of all ages regardless of their general health condition. Doppler ultrasonography is used for imaging:
  • Blood vessels within various parts of the body. This mainly refers to: Carotid arteries and subclavian arteries, on which the circulation in the upper limbs depends. The formation of blood clots in these areas can lead to numbness in the hands. In addition, the condition of the blood vessels in the legs is often examined by Doppler.
  • The genitals, in particular in men. Indications for Doppler ultrasound are erectile dysfunctions in men, because varicose veins of the spermatic cord are a frequent cause of these disorders.
  • Heart, because it can detect basic valvular defects.
  • Abdominal organs: kidneys, pancreas, liver and spleen. Thanks to Doppler ultrasound it is possible to detect early tumour changes.

Ultrasound of the lower limbs - why is it performed?

Doppler examination is the basis for diagnosing cardiovascular diseases. It allows for a quick and non-invasive way to examine the level of efficiency of blood vessels in the lower limbs. Doppler ultrasound can reveal, among other things, the presence of atherosclerotic plaques in veins and arteries, stenosis and obstructions in blood vessels, as well as thrombi within them.

The primary care physician often orders a Doppler ultrasound when the patient complains of: leg cramps accompanied by pain, swelling and bruising. Such symptoms may indicate: varicose veins, atherosclerosis, thrombosis and aneurysms of the lower limbs.

All these diseases are dangerous to health because they are associated with a high risk of life-threatening complications in the form of stroke, pulmonary embolism or sudden cardiac arrest.

Doppler ultrasound of the legs - recommendations

Basic recommendations for patients before leg Doppler ultrasound.

  1. Before the examination, you should take all the medicines you are taking (except if your doctor clearly states that you should stop taking them).
  2. You should bring your results from previous Doppler ultrasounds with you to the examination.
  3. During the examination, you should assume the position recommended by the doctor.
  4. Pregnancy is not a contraindication for the examination.
  5. Open wounds, bone injuries and burns within the examination field are an absolute contraindication to the Doppler USG.
  6. The following should be brought to the examination: a referral from a doctor (except when going for a Doppler ultrasound in a private clinic), previous results of laboratory tests, identity card, child's health booklet (in the case of minors).
  • Małek G., Elwertowski M., Nowicki A., Standards of ultrasonographic examinations of the Polish Ultrasound Society - update. Study of the aorta and lower limb arteries, Journal of Ultrasonography 2014; 14: 192-202.
  • Wojtukiewicz M.Z., Sierko E., Tomkowski W. et al, Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism in patients with cancer, "Oncology in Clinical Practice - Education", 2016; 2: 73-101.

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