Spectral Doppler-Enhanced Ultrasound Explained

| Roxanne Blanford

Spectral Doppler is an ultrasound technique for image display, consisting of Pulse Wave Doppler (PW) and Continuous Wave Doppler (CW). Doppler echocardiography is a vital diagnostic tool for the clinical evaluation of cardiac patients, providing a reliable means to obtain images of the heart (using ultrasound waves) for assessing the severity of blood flow (or, velocity), blood flow obstruction, and other cardiovascular disorders.

Differences Between PW Doppler and CW Doppler

PW Doppler is primarily used to assess blood flow/velocity across valves or vessels, to evaluate cardiac function, and/or to calculate flow within a small window of space.

Two-dimensional echocardiography assists with obtaining usable data (for example, heart chamber size; evaluation of diastolic and/or systolic function; quantitation of intracardiac shunts), which can be measured to identify cardiac conditions, measure cardiac output (CO) and regurgitant volumes. 


CW Doppler, on the other hand, is used to measure high velocities across restrictive orifices, such as stenotic or regurgitant valve orifices. Unlike PW Doppler, the ultrasound probe in CW Doppler is never quiet. It is continuously 'listening'-- sending and receiving pulses (or, ultrasound waves) all the time. 

One advantage of continuous wave is the ability to obtain Doppler shift data from every red cell that reflects ultrasound back to the transducer.

The Value of High Fidelity Training in Spectral Doppler-Enhanced Ultrasound

Upon successful completion of training, the learner should possess

  • an understanding of how to properly use Doppler equipment 
  • proficiency in both 2D and 3D echo
  • the ability to recognize, interpret and assess rare and complex cardiac abnormalities
  • skills in displaying cardiac and/or vascular structures and blood flow 
  • capability in the accurate use of M-mode and Bi-plane mode
  • the ability to perform TEE and TTE exams with a high degree of clinical competence and confidence

CAE Vimedix: An Easier Way to Teach and Learn Ultrasound

CAE Healthcare's Vimedix ultrasound simulators are designed to meet the demanding training needs of today and tomorrow. With training modules covering transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), general abdominal ultrasound, lung ultrasound, obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound, Vimedix possesses one of the most comprehensive pathology packages available, with advanced performance metrics that have been validated in peer-reviewed scientific publications.

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