A transcranial Doppler ultrasound is one of the most reliable tests for diagnosing sickle cell anemia (SCA) in children and adults. At The Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease Research in Homestead, Orlando, Lakeland, Jacksonville, Belle Glade, Tallahassee, and Hollywood, Florida, Gershwin Blyden, MD, PhD, FCP, FACP, and the team of hematologists use transcranial Doppler ultrasounds to assess the speed of your blood. To learn more, call The Foundation for Sickle Cell Research or schedule an appointment online now.
A transcranial Doppler ultrasound uses ultrasound waves to measure the speed of your blood flow. It’s a vital test for diagnosing sickle cell anemia because the inherited disorder leads to poor blood flow.
Sickle cell anemia occurs when the red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body, mutate in shape. The sickle shape resembles a crescent, which can’t pass through the blood vessels without sticking to the walls. As the cells build up, they form blockages that simultaneously halt blood and oxygen flow.
Measuring the blood’s velocity through a transcranial Doppler ultrasound can determine whether blood flow in the brain is moving at a healthy rate.
A transcranial Doppler ultrasound sends ultrasound waves into the tissue in your skull. The waves then reverberate from the targeted blood cells and send the recorded ultrasound waves back to your doctor’s computer screen, allowing them to see the velocity of the blood moving through your blood vessels. Blocked or slow-moving blood can indicate sickle cell anemia.
As a quick noninvasive test, a transcranial Doppler ultrasound requires no significant preparation. The test uses an external handheld probe, so parents can stay with their child during testing.
The doctor gently maneuvers the handheld device over the skull, much like they would with an abdominal ultrasound. In general, the test takes just 15 minutes or less.
What happens after your transcranial Doppler ultrasound depends on the results. If the speed of your blood flow measures 170-200 cm/s (centimeters per second), your doctor may ask you to return for another test in 6-12 weeks.
Results above 200 cm/s require additional testing, such as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), to view the blood vessels more closely.
A transcranial Doppler ultrasound is an essential test for sickle cell anemia. An early diagnosis can help reduce the risk of serious sickle cell anemia complications, such as stroke. Studies show that around 11% of sickle cell patients suffer a stroke by the time they reach adulthood. By diagnosing the condition early, your doctor can take preventive measures.
To learn more about transcranial Doppler ultrasounds, call The Foundation for Sickle Cell Research or schedule an appointment online today.