A pelvic Doppler ultrasound can be useful in high-risk pregnancies.
What You Should Know
Ultrasounds are standard for normal pregnancies. For high-risk pregnancy situations that require more specialized care, a pelvic Doppler scan could prove useful. Luckily for Phoenix-area mothers and their Ob/Gyn’s, expert ultrasound sonographers and other specialists at Valley Perinatal Services can perform this specialized imaging.
What Is a Pelvic Doppler?
A pelvic Doppler is a type of ultrasound imaging medical device. It’s similar to a transabdominal ultrasound in equipment and procedures used. Gel is applied to the skin of your abdomen, and a transducer is moved along the gel to scan organs. The sounds produced by the transducer are interpreted by a computer as images of organs and tissues.
What makes a pelvic Doppler different from other ultrasounds is what it looks for. A Doppler scan uses sound waves to measure blood flow through the umbilical cord and around parts of your baby’s body, as well as your uterus and placenta. Like a standard ultrasound, a pelvic Doppler interprets the sound waves as an image, but one that shows the sonographer the speed and direction of blood flow; this can tell doctors whether your baby is getting enough oxygen and nutrients from the placenta, and is able to eliminate waste properly. Knowing how everything is moving in real time may help doctors determine what actions to take in caring for you and your baby through your delivery date. There are four basic types of pelvic Doppler imaging:
- Bedside Doppler: Also called “continuous wave” Doppler, this scan can be done at bedside in a hospital. It uses the change in sound-wave pitches to gather information about blood flow through vessels, and may be helpful in determining whether certain areas are blocked or narrowed.
- Duplex Doppler: This scan takes a picture of a blood vessel as well as the organs around it, and turns the sound-wave information into a graph. This graph shows the speed and direction of blood flow in the vessels.
- Color Doppler: This scan turns the Doppler sounds into images of blood vessels with colors laid over them, showing blood flow patterns.
- Power Doppler: This is a specialized form of a color Doppler scan designed to get images that would be hard to capture with the standard color Doppler. Power Doppler imaging can capture blood flow images inside organs and more solid tissue.
What Pelvic Doppler Scans Check
The specific areas and functions your doctor will want to check with a pelvic Doppler will depend on your situation. These are some areas your doctor might want to check, and why:
- Uterine artery: These are vessels that carry blood to the womb. Pelvic Doppler imaging checks that enough blood is reaching the placenta. If you have a high chance of developing preeclampsia, this could be an area that gets looked at.
- Umbilical artery: A scan checks on the blood flow from the baby through the umbilical cord, back into the placenta. The results can help ensure that your baby is getting the right level of nutrients and oxygen, especially in cases where the baby is growing slowly, there’s RH sensation or you’re carrying multiples.
- Middle cerebral artery: The scan measures blood flow in an artery that gets blood to your baby’s brain. This may help determine whether the baby’s blood is carrying the right amount of oxygen, and if an intervention is needed in the event of anemia or when a baby is affected by rhesus antibodies or illnesses such as slapped cheek disease.
- Ductus venosus: The ductus venosus supplies blood to the heart. In the first trimester, this scan can detect some types of chromosomal anomalies. In the third trimester, it can help a doctor determine whether the baby is getting enough nutrition and oxygen.
Reasons to Get a Doppler Ultrasound
Like all ultrasounds, pelvic Doppler scans present information similar to X-rays, but without the radiation. It’s safe, as long as you’re in the hands of a specially trained sonographer who knows about pelvic Doppler imaging, and what to look for in high-risk pregnancies. A perinatologist might recommend a pelvic Doppler in these high-risk cases, or others, depending on your situation:
- Low or high BMI
- Carrying multiples
- An existing medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or sickle cell disease
- The baby is smaller than normal for gestational age, or the mother previously had a small baby
- RH sensitization has occurred or could occur
- The mother has experienced a late miscarriage or lost a baby at birth
Valley Perinatal Doppler Ultrasounds
Making sure your baby has everything he/she needs for a healthy beginning is one of the best things you can do as a mother. A pelvic Doppler scan may give you the information you need to make informed choices based on what you see your baby’s body doing in real time. If a pelvic Doppler can detect problems early on, mother and baby may have as healthy a pregnancy and delivery experience as possible, even in high-risk situations.
Valley Perinatal has nine locations in Phoenix and southern Arizona that can help mothers and Ob/Gyn’s co-manage high-risk pregnancies. We have specially trained and certified perinatologists and sonographers who are experts in ultrasound technology and unique pregnancies like yours, and we can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Get in touch online or by phone at 480.756.6000.