Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography was introduced in 1982 as a noninvasive procedure for assessment of the intracranial cerebral circulation. The lightweight and portable equipment used for transcranial Doppler examination facilitates its use in the bedside assessment of critically ill hospitalized patients and outpatients. Clinical applications include the diagnosis of vasospasm in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, assessment of intracranial collateral flow in patients with extracranial arterial occlusive disease, detection of intracranial arterial stenosis, identification of the feeding arteries of arteriovenous malformations and monitoring the hemodynamic effects of their treatment, confirmation of the clinical diagnosis of brain death, intensive-care unit monitoring of brain-injured patients, and intraoperative and postoperative monitoring of neurosurgical patients. Transcranial Doppler technology is also providing new insights into the pathophysiologic mechanisms of a variety of cerebrovascular conditions. Clinicians will find transcranial Doppler technology most helpful if they have a specific question about the status of the intracranial circulation. Further investigations may expand the clinical and research utility of this technology.
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