A vascular ultrasound provides images of the arteries or veins throughout the body. The most common reason for a venous ultrasound is to search for blood clots, especially in the veins of the leg. This condition is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). These blood clots can break off and move into the lungs, where they can cause a dangerous condition called pulmonary embolism. If the blood clot is found early enough, treatment can be started to prevent it from moving to the lung. An arterial ultrasound is used most often to detect the presence and location of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), narrowing of the arteries supplying the legs.
A vascular ultrasound study can also be performed to:
Locate and identify blockages and abnormalities in veins and arteries
Determine the cause of leg swelling. In people with varicose veins, the valves that keep blood flowing back to the heart in the right direction may be damaged.
Your veins return blood to the heart. There are two sets of veins in the legs, deep and superficial. As you walk, calf muscle movement pushes blood upward and one-way valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing back into your feet.
Your arteries carry blood rich in oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. When the arteries in your legs become blocked, your legs do not receive enough blood or oxygen, and you may have a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). It can cause pain in your hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, shins, or upper feet when you walk.
A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of a venous or arterial ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel, including the body’s major arteries and veins to help evaluate:
Please allow 30 to 45 minutes for the exam but it oftentimes takes less time. It is easy, painless and relatively harmless. Your technician will ask you to undress from the waist down and lay flat down on an examination table. A warm gel is applied to the area being examined and a small wand (transducer) will be firmly pressed on the area. The transducer will record the flow of the blood through your blood vessels and displayed on a computer screen. You can return to your normal activities immediately following the exam unless your cardiologist has instructed otherwise.
Once your test is evaluated, your cardiologist will discuss the results with you and what they mean to your health. If a definitive diagnosis can be made, treatment may be initiated. In some cases, further testing may be necessary to further evaluate abnormal findings.
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