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What does a Doppler ultrasound of the renal arteries entail?

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Quick Answer

During a renal artery Doppler ultrasound, a technician places ultrasound gel on the skin and uses a device called a transducer to measure the blood flow through the renal arteries, explains the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The technician typically scans areas on the front or sides of the patient's abdomen, notes UC Davis Health System. The ultrasound, which does not use intravenous contrast material, takes around one or two hours.

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Because the renal arteries are located deep in the abdomen, gas in the intestines can cause problems during the ultrasound. As a result, sometimes patients must refrain from eating and abstain from caffeine and tobacco for a certain time period before the test, explains UC Davis Health System. Health care providers' offices, outpatient centers or hospitals typically perform renal artery Doppler ultrasounds, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Doctors use renal artery Doppler ultrasounds to diagnose renal artery stenosis, or a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, states UC Davis Health System. Renal artery stenosis typically leads to decreased blood flow to one or both kidneys, which commonly results in high blood pressure. If left untreated for a long time, renal artery stenosis can lead to kidney failure.

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