What Is A Fetal Doppler Scan?

A Fetal Doppler is an ultrasound scan that helps assess the baby’s blood flow through the umbilical cord to various parts of the baby’s body. 

This scan also helps determine whether blood flows properly through the vessels and studies if sufficient oxygen and nutrients the child needs are supplied via the placenta. Normal blood flow indicates a healthy fetus, and any abnormality in the blood flow indicates that the fetus is under stress.

fetal doppler scan

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Why Is A Doppler Scan Required?

Some of the other conditions for which the doctors recommend Doppler scan are:

Other understanding that can be gained from a Fetal Doppler scan:

When Is The Doppler Scan Done?

Doppler scan is performed usually during the third trimester. In some cases (like high-risk pregnancies), more than one Doppler scan will be asked by the doctor.

Are Doppler Scans Safe?

As with all ultrasound scans, Doppler scans are safe when performed by a certified fetal medicine specialist.

Types Of Doppler Scans During Pregnancy Phase

Transvaginal Doppler

As the name suggests, the Doppler probe is inserted into the vagina. It helps the doctor check if there is an ectopic pregnancy.

Fetal Doppler

This is a handheld device used to monitor your baby’s heartbeat. This can make the heartbeats of the baby audible.

What is the difference between a normal ultrasound and a Doppler ultrasound?

A normal ultrasound will not show the rate of blood flow, but a Doppler scan will show the rate of the blood flow and blood pressure in placenta, umbilical cord, brain and heart of the baby.

Normal ultrasound scans shows only the image of the baby but Doppler can help hear the heartbeat and the amount of oxygen and nutrients the baby gets by accessing the blood flow rate

What Does A Doppler Scan Look For, And Why?

A Doppler test during pregnancy can provide details about the blood circulation in the brain, kidneys, heart, umbilical cord, placenta as well as in the uterus.It helps confirm fetal heartbeat

Uterine artery Doppler scan:

 Uterine arteries are blood vessels which take blood to the uterus. Normally these arteries are small in size.

But in the course of pregnancy these arteries increase in size (stretches) to providing less resistance and thus allowing more blood to flow through it. The Doppler scan in this area helps to check whether enough blood is reaching the womb.

Uterine artery Doppler scan

Umbilical artery Doppler scan:

 In umbilical artery Doppler scan, the blood flow from the baby through the umbilical cord towards the placenta is checked.

This scan helps to make sure the baby is getting everything he needs from the mother’s placenta.

The umbilical artery Doppler scan is performed if the mother is carrying more than one baby or if the growth rate of the baby is less for the gestational period or if the baby is affected by rhesus antibodies

Umbilical artery Doppler scan

Middle cerebral artery Doppler scan (MCA Doppler scan): 

If some issues are detected during umbilical artery Doppler scan, MCA Doppler scan is performed to check the blood flow in the baby’s brain.

MCA Doppler scan

Ductus venosus Doppler scan: 

This scan is done if the first result of any of the above scans shows issues. Here, the blood vessel which carries well oxygenated blood from the umbilical vein to the heart of the baby is assessed to evaluate the volume of blood reaching the baby


How Does Doppler Test Work?

A Doppler ultrasound test is painless and non-invasive. It uses reflected sound waves to see how blood flows through a blood vessel.

The sound waves bounce off solid objects, including blood cellsas they move, giving an accurate picture of their speed.The movement of blood cells causes a change in the pitch of the reflected sound waves.

This is called the Doppler effect. If there is no blood flow, the pitch does not change.

From this can be calculated the rate of blood flow moving through the umbilical cord between baby and placenta.

Functionality and health of the placenta are thereby checked, and also that of other major blood vessels. Blood clots, blocked arteries or reduced blood flow can all be identified, as well as the risk of pre-eclampsia.

Frequently Asked Questions

A fetal Doppler scan is painless and non-invasive. 

You are advised to fast for a few hours before your scan. Intake of water during that time is allowed. 

  • Uterine artery Doppler scan
  • Umbilical artery Doppler scan
  • Middle cerebral artery Doppler scan (MCA Doppler scan)
  • Ductus venosus Doppler scan

CA fetal Doppler scan takes about 30minutes to complete.

Doppler a scan can be combined with your growth scan. This can be done during your third trimester.

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