Power Doppler (PD) imaging is a widely used technique for flow detection. Despite the wide use of Doppler ultrasound, limitations exist in the ability of Doppler ultrasound to assess slow flow in the small-diameter vasculature, such as the maternal spiral arteries and fetal villous arteries of the placenta and focal liver lesions. The sensitivity of PD in small vessel detection is limited by the low signal produced by slow flow and the noise associated with small vessels. The noise sources include electronic noise, stationary or slowly moving tissue clutter, reverberation clutter, and off-axis scattering from tissue, among others. In order to provide more sensitive detection of slow flow in small diameter vessels, a coherent flow imaging technique, termed coherent flow PD (CFPD), is characterized and evaluated with simulation, flow phantom experiment studies, and an in vivo animal small vessel detection study. CFPD imaging was introduced as a technique to detect slow blood flow. It has been demonstrated to detect slow flow below the detection threshold of conventional PD imaging using identical pulse sequences and filter parameters. In this paper, we compare CFPD with PD in the detection of blood flow in small-diameter vessels. The results from the study suggest that CFPD is able to provide a 7.5-12.5-dB increase in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) over PD images for the same physiological conditions and is less susceptible to reverberation clutter and thermal noise. Due to the increase in SNR, CFPD is able to detect small vessels in high channel noise cases, for which PD was unable to generate enough contrast to observe the vessel.