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Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 1999;213(5):391-400.

A review of the measurement of blood velocity and related quantities using Doppler ultrasound.

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  • 1Department of Medical Physics and Medical Engineering, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Ultrasound systems can be used to investigate blood flow by use of the Doppler effect. The flow information may be displayed as either a real-time sonogram or a two-dimensional colour image. Estimates of maximum velocity using commercial systems are in error by typically 10-100 per cent; this is associated with the inability of the single-beam Doppler method to measure the true direction of flow, and with geometric spectral broadening. Vector Doppler systems acquire Doppler information along two beam directions and are able to measure accurately the velocity and direction of motion within the scan plane. The small beam width of modern Doppler systems means that the condition of uniform insonation, required for estimation of mean velocity from mean frequency shift, is not valid except for the very smallest vessels. Other quantities related to the velocity may also be estimated, such as the volumetric flow and wall shear stress. Flow visualization using colour flow imaging suffers from dependence of the displayed colour on the direction of blood motion. The vector Doppler technique may be extended to colour flow to give improved visualization of flow, in which there is no angle dependence within the scan plane.

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