Vascular ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body. The transducer collects the sounds that bounce back and a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. 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.
A Doppler ultrasound study is usually part of a vascular ultrasound examination.
Doppler ultrasound, also called color Doppler ultrasonography, is a special ultrasound technique that allows the physician to see and evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck and/or brain (in infants and children) or within various body organs such as the liver or kidneys.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Sonography is a useful way of evaluating the body’s circulatory system. Vascular ultrasound is performed to:
help monitor the 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 major veins of the legs or arms.
determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty.
evaluate the success of procedures that graft or bypass blood vessels.
determine if there is an enlarged artery (aneurysm).
evaluate varicose veins.
Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
blockages to blood flow (such as clots)
narrowing of vessels
tumors and congenital vascular malformations
reduced or absent blood flow to various organs
greater than normal blood flow to different areas, which is sometimes seen in infections