Renal and mesenteric Doppler ultrasound uses a technique called Doppler ultrasound to evaluate blood flow through the renal arteries (which supply blood to the kidneys) and/or the mesenteric arteries (which supply the intestine and other abdominal organs). A device called a transducer is passed lightly across different areas of your abdomen or lower back, directing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) at the selected arteries. The sound waves are reflected back at frequencies that correspond to the velocity of blood flow, and are converted into audible sounds and graphic recordings.

Duplex scanning combines Doppler ultrasound with real-time ultrasound imaging of the arteries, allowing calculation of the percent of narrowing in the vessels. Images are displayed on a viewing monitor and may also be recorded on film or video. This method is the best initial test to screen for narrowing or blockage of the renal or mesenteric arteries.

Purpose of the Renal and Mesenteric Doppler Ultrasound

  • To determine if stenosis, aneurysm or other disease of the renal arteries is present; if so, to also determine what kind/severity and where it is
  • To evaluate for disease in renal arteries and kidneys
  • To diagnose if there is a presence of epigastric or flank bruit in a hypertensive patient
  • To detect arterial narrowing or blockages that prevent adequate blood flow to the kidneys and abdominal organs
  • To identify the presence of kidney stones, masses, intrinsic kidney disease or end-vessel renal vascular disease

Who Performs It

  • A technician trained in ultrasound

Special Concerns

  • None

Before the Renal and Mesenteric Doppler Ultrasound

  • You will be asked to disrobe and put on a hospital gown.
  • Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the test.

What You Experience

  • You will either lie on your front or back on a bed or table.
  • A small amount of water-soluble gel is applied to the skin of your lower back or abdomen to enhance sound wave transmission.
  • The examiner then moves the transducer back and forth over the skin to record blood flow and obtain different views of the blood vessels being studied.
  • Once clear images are obtained, they are recorded on film or video for later analysis.
  • The test takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Risks and Complications

  • Ultrasound is painless, noninvasive, and involves no exposure to radiation. There are no associated risks.

After the Renal and Mesenteric Doppler Ultrasound

  • The examiner removes the conductive gel from your skin.
  • You may resume your normal activities.


  • A physician reviews the recorded images and other test data for evidence of any blockages in the renal and/or mesenteric arteries.
  • In some cases, additional tests, such as arteriography, are required to further evaluate abnormal findings and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
  • If no further tests are warranted, your doctor will recommend an appropriate schedule of follow-up exams and/or treatment.


The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Medical Tests

Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 17 Jan 2012

Last Modified: 13 Jan 2015