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Color Doppler Ultrasound in Pregnancy: Why and How is it Done?

Color Doppler Ultrasound in Pregnancy: Why and How is it Done?

What is the use of the color Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy?

Color Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy generates video images of various parts of the fetus developing in the patient’s uterus. It evaluates the direction and speed of blood flow in the organs like the:

  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Umbilical cord

Doctors order this test to analyze if certain medical conditions are affecting the fetus. The color Doppler ultrasound utilizes sound waves to track the blood flow. This is safe because other scans use radiation, which is harmful for the fetus and may cause severe birth defects and other long-term repercussions.

There are two types of color Doppler:

  • Standard color Doppler
  • Power Doppler

Power Doppler is a more advanced variation that can generate images that are difficult to secure with the standard color Doppler. It is also more suitable for generating images of flow of blood within the vessels of solid organs.

Why would you need this procedure?

Color Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy evaluates the flow of blood across different parts of the fetus’s body. Your doctor might recommend this if they suspect certain abnormalities in the fetus. Doctors may also recommend this when they suspect the fetus has a medical condition related to blood flow or placenta circulation.

These medical conditions include maternal conditions like: chronic hypertension and cardiac abnormalities. It also includes intrauterine growth restrictions.

Prerequisites

No preparations are required for the test, unless your doctor advises any. Remember to wear loose-fitting clothes to help in undertaking the test. Also, remove all pieces of jewellery before you go for the color Doppler test as they act as a hindrance.

When should a color Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy be repeated?

Your doctor may recommend repeating the test at regular intervals in case certain abnormalities were found during your first color Doppler ultrasound. Your doctor will measure the extent of abnormalities that are developing in the fetus. Pregnant women with a history of cardiovascular conditions and other medical conditions, may also need to repeat the color Doppler test at regular intervals. Previous history of complications during pregnancy may also be the reason for repeat tests.

Procedure

  • The sonographer conducting the color doppler ultrasound applies a clear gel or lubricant all over the skin of your stomach liberally. This enables the ultrasound sensor to glide all over your belly easily without causing friction.
  • He/she then places the sensor on the skin.
  • This sensor sends sound waves into your body. These waves are reflected back from the surface of the organs or tissues they touch.
  • The echoes are transformed into images that appear on a video screen.
  • Images of the baby’s organs and blood in motion through the vessels of these organs become visible on the monitor. The monitor converts Doppler sounds into colors before representing the images of blood vessels.
  • The medical expert continues to slide the sensor against the skin of the stomach several times throughout the ultrasound session. This helps get a clear picture of blood circulation in the body of the developing fetus. This procedure usually spans between 15 and 30 minutes.
  • The sonographer may ask you to stay still or hold on to your breath at intervals. This is when the sonographer examines the flow of blood in the fetus closely. This non-invasive procedure is painless.

Key takeaway

Doctors use color Doppler ultrasound in pregnancy to monitor the blood flow of the fetus. Certain medical conditions may affect the blood flow. This procedure does not require preparation and is non-invasive.

Learn more about Prenatal Care here.

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 29
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel