For information about radiation exposure and medical imaging click here.

Ultrasound imaging (sonography) involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

Vascular ultrasound provides pictures of the body's veins and arteries. Some may use a Doppler ultrasound study as part of a vascular ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that measures the speed of blood as it flows through a blood vessel, including the body's major arteries and veins in the abdominal aorta, arms, legs and neck (carotids).

 


Help Center

Why would my physician order a Vascular Ultrasound?
How should I prepare for my Vascular Ultrasound?
What should I expect during the procedure?
What will I experience during the procedure?
When and how will I find the results of my test?
Are there any health risks associated with Vascular Ultrasound?


Why would my physician order a Vascular Ultrasound?

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Vascular ultrasound is performed to:
  • Help monitor blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body
  • Locate and identify blockages (stenosis) and abnormalities like plaque or emboli and help plan for their effective treatment
  • Detect blood clots (deep venous thrombosis (DVT)) in the legs or arms
  • Determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty
  • Evaluate patients after they have had graft or bypass surgery of legs or arms
  • Determine if there is an enlarged artery (aneurysm)

Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
  • Blockages to blood flow (such as clots) narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque)

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How should I prepare for my Vascular Ultrasound?

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It is recommended that you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You may need to remove all clothing (you will be provided with a gown) and jewelry in the area to be examined. If your abdominal vessels are being examined, unless the examination is performed on an urgent basis, it is often best to fast before the procedure.

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What should I expect during the procedure?

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Most ultrasound examinations are painless, fast, and easy. After you are positioned on the examination table, the Sonographer will apply some warm water-based gel on your skin and then place the transducer firmly against your body, moving it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

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What will I experience during the procedure?

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There is usually no discomfort while an ultrasound exam is being performed. If scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer. If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured. Once the imaging is complete, the gel will be wiped off your skin. After an ultrasound exam, you should be able to resume your normal activites.

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When and how will I find the results of my test?

One of our on-site radiologists (a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations) will analyze the images and send a report to your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss the ultrasound results with you. In some cases the radiologist may discuss results with you at the conclusion of your examination.

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Are there any health risks associated with Vascular Ultrasound?

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For standard diagnostic vascular ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.

However, there are many benefits to vascular ultrasound:
  • Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections) and is usually painless.
  • Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.
  • Ultrasound imaging uses no ionizing radiation.
  • Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.
  • Ultrasound causes no health problems and may be repeated as often as is necessary.

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