A vascular ultrasound (US) is a special Doppler ultrasound that is used to diagnose heart problems and examine blood vessels to determine blood flow patterns and if there is any narrowing or blockage. The most frequently examined vessels are in the arms, legs, and neck and include both veins and arteries. Vascular ultrasound is a non-invasive, painless procedure that utilizes high frequency sound waves and does not require the use of radiation, dyes, needles, or and anesthesia.
Physicians typically request a vascular ultrasound test for patients that are suspected to have circulatory system problems. Stroke patients may also benefit from a vascular ultrasound to determine what factors caused the stroke. Lastly, it is used by physicians as a tool to evaluate the success of bypass surgery and to determine if someone is a good candidate for angioplasty.
A vascular ultrasound should be performed as frequently as it is recommended by a physician. It is typically administered by a technologist who places a water-based gel on the area that is being examined. A transducer, or small wand is firmly rotated against the body (across the area being studied) to capture the desired images on ultrasound machines. Most ultrasound exams take approximately 30 minutes, or less and the results are either given to the patient immediately or sent to their physician.
Vascular ultrasound machines are an effective diagnostic tool that can accurately evaluate the human circulatory system. An ultrasound of the veins can locate blockage (thrombosis) which can cause arm and leg pain or swelling. It allows medical professionals to locate abnormalities and obstructions, such as plaque build-up and blood clots. For patients with varicose veins, vascular ultrasounds can also assist surgeons in dealing with the condition. Since the procedure does not require any type of radiation, it is relatively a risk-free procedure.