G_CS_35 SOP for Use of Handheld Dopplex Vascular Doppler Ultrasound

A handheld Dopplex Vascular Doppler ultrasound is a non- invasive diagnostic device used to detect blood flow in both veins and arteries. The Doppler probe emits high frequency ultrasound waves, when the waves hit the red blood cells moving in an artery, their frequency changes and the probe detects the "doppler shift" converting it to an audible signal (Nursing Times, 2002). In vascular assessment, the direction and velocity of blood flow is measured to identify whether the patients arterial blood vessels are healthy or diseased (Beldon, 2010).

This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) aims to ensure accuracy of the results leading to correct diagnosis of vascular status and appropriate care. LCHS has handheld Dopplex Vascular Dopplers available for use by relevant Practitioner.

The RCN (1998) recommends that all patients with a leg ulcer should have their ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI) recorded as part of a holistic assessment. When performed according to the recommended procedure, an ABPI is a means of aiding clinical judgement and enables the identification of those patients with a compromised arterial blood supply (Moffatt, Martin & Smithdale, 2007).

A lower limb Doppler assessment should be performed by a practitioner who has received the appropriate training to enable them to demonstrate competency in the following areas that are applicable to them:

  • the safe and correct use of the equipment (MHRA  2006)
  • gaining consent and preparation of the patient (Department of Health (DH) 2001, DH 2005)
  • Clinical examination and general assessment.
  • Identifying indicators of venous and arterial disease.
  • Undertaking an Ankle Brachial Pressure Indices assessment and interpretation of the results.
  • The appropriate use of compression therapy.

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