What is lower extremity doppler?

Lower extremity doppler is a test that the healthcare provider conducts to detect any blocked or narrowed blood vessels, venous insufficiency, arterial occlusion, including any artery that has an irregular blood flow in the leg and arms of an individual. This process is conducted with the help of ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves that echo off the body) technology and blood pressure cuffs.

How is the lower extremity doppler performed?

A non-invasive test is conducted on an individual resting, and content regarding the vascular system in a “non-stressed” condition is provided. In this examination, the individual is asked to walk on a treadmill for at least five minutes and then to lie back on the bed (stretcher) where blood pressure cuffs are placed on the ankle. It would aid in tracking the amount of blood flow post-exercise and the recovery time required. 

The lower extremity doppler is performed in the radiology or ultrasound department. During the exam:

  • A gel is placed on a handheld device known as the transducer. The transducer directs the high-frequency sound waves to the tested veins or arteries.
  • The blood pressure cuffs might be put around various body parts, including the calf, thigh, ankle, and different points, including the arm. 

Who will perform the exam?

The lower extremity doppler examination is conducted by a specially trained technologist who is specially trained to estimate the more inferior extremity arteries for abnormalities and will make doppler waveforms and pressure measurements of the vessels in the legs.   

How will the examination feel to an individual?

Sometimes, the patient can experience slight pain when pressure is put on the vein. The person conducting the examination might feel the need to press on an individual’s vein to confirm there is no clotting or blockage in the vein. 

How long will the examination take? 

The lower extremity will take thirty to forty-five minutes to complete. The patient will be asked to leave the examination room after completing the test, and the technologist will not discuss the results of the test with the patient. The consultant will understand the picture and velocity measurements within two days of the examination results and then send them to the patient. 

Why is there a need to conduct a lower extremity doppler?

The healthcare adviser would suggest the individual for a lower extremity doppler to view the veins and the arteries of an individual and diagnose the following disorders: 

    • Arteriosclerosis: The arteriosclerosis of the legs and arms is an illness of the peripheral blood vessels categorized by the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. The narrowing of the arteries causes a drop in the blood flow to the legs. The indications of PAD can include leg pain, cold legs and feet, numbness, and muscle pain in the thigh, feet, or calve. 
  • Blood clot: A blood clot occurs when an individual’s blood gets hardened from liquid to solid. The blood clot shaped inside an individual’s arteries or veins is called a thrombus. The blockage in an individual’s vein can cause swelling and fluid build-up.
  • Venous insufficiency: Venous insufficiency is when the veins cannot transport enough blood from an individual’s legs back to the heart.

Furthermore, the consultant can advise for lower extremity doppler to identify any injury to the arteries and trace the arterial reconstruction and bypass graft. Other than this examination, the healthcare provider can recommend the following exams too:

  • Arteriography: This test aids the doctor in viewing the arteries in an individual’s feet, hands, or legs. This examination is also known as peripheral angiography. 
  • Venography: This examination is conducted to view the veins in an individual’s legs.

What do the abnormal and normal results indicate?

  • Expected results: the average result would indicate no indication of blood vessels being clot or narrowing, and the arteries usually transport blood. 
  • Abnormal results: abnormal results of an individual’s lower extremity doppler would indicate blockage caused by a blood clot in the veins, widening or narrowing of an artery, closing of the veins known as the venous occlusion, spastic arterial disorder (this is an arterial contraction caused by cold or emotion). The individual can also be diagnosed with venous reflux (if blood is transported in the wrong direction in the veins).  

What medical conditions can be accessed with the help of lower extremity doppler?

The health care advisor can diagnose the following medical disorders in an individual:

  • The arteriosclerosis of the extremities.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis.
  • Deep venous thrombosis.


  • https://www.vascularsurgeryassociates.net/contents/vascular-testing/lower-extremity-arterial-doppler retrieved on 22 august 2022 
  • https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/tests/doppler-ultrasound-exam-of-an-arm-or-leg recovered on 22 august 2022
  • https://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.19.21280 retrieved on 22 august 2022

https://www.southpalmcardiovascular.com/contents/peripheral-arterial-disease/lower-extremity-arterial-doppler#:~:text=Lower%20extremity%20arterial%20Doppler%20testing,that%20have%20abnormal%20blood%20flow. Retrieved on 22 august 2022.