The vascular ultrasound (VU) examines blood flow in the arms and legs using a non-invasive, non-contact ultrasound method called duplex imaging. A non-invasive procedure does not require needles, dyes, radiation, or anesthesia.
Radiation-free sound waves don’t contain any harmful substances. Aside from obstetrics, gynecology, abdominal imaging, echocardiography, muscular-skeletal imaging, and vascular imaging, ultrasound has several subspecialties. It has the following certain benefits;
- During a vascular ultrasound examination, the arteries and veins of the body are examined.
- Vascular technologists can diagnose blood flow patterns in real-time and record them dynamically by using ultrasound imaging and Doppler ultrasound technologies.
- In vascular ultrasound, sound waves are transmitted through tissue to determine the condition of the vascular system.
- By using VU, physicians can calculate the speed of blood cells based on the sound waves reflected in their movement inside blood vessels. Computers display the reflected sound waves on the screen.
Vascular sonographer – what is it?
An avascular sonographer is an individual expert in vascular technology who uses non-invasive techniques to examine the arteries and veins of the body. The credentials of a sonographer are essential as they must demonstrate competency in diagnostic vascular studies.
The Certified sonographers have met specific educational standards and have passed an examination that tests their knowledge and skills. Vascular technologists, vascular specialists, and phlebology sonographers may be eligible for certification.
Why do you need Vascular Ultrasound?
Vascular ultrasound is found beneficial in the following conditions;
- To monitor the blood flow to all organs and tissues of the body.
- To locate and identify blockages (stenosis), and abnormalities (plaques, emboli) and assist in the treatment planning. A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) test is used to detect blood clots in the legs or arms.
- To ascertain whether a patient is an appropriate candidate for an angioplasty procedure or not.
- To determine whether grafted or bypassed blood vessels have succeeded.
- To examine the arteries for enlargements (aneurysms).
- To determine whether varicose veins exist or not.
Ultrasound is applied to children for the following purposes:
- To place a needle or catheter safely within a vein or artery to reduce the risk of complications such as bleeding, nerve injury, or pseudo-aneurysms (abnormal swelling of an artery with potential for rupture).
- To examine the connection between an artery and a vein in congenital vascular malformations (arteriovenous malformations or fistulas) and dialysis fistulas.
An artery or vein in the leg or arm has a much higher risk of forming a clot due to its smaller size than the larger vessels in the body (especially in infants and young children). A blood clot can form in an arm or left leg, extending further into the abdomen in some instances. A doctor can see and evaluate these things with a Doppler ultrasound:
- A blockage in blood flow (such as clots)
- Vascular constriction
- Malformations of the vascular system
- The testes or ovary do not receive enough blood flow
- Symptoms of infection include increased blood flow etc.
How long is the test?
- Ultrasounds usually take between 30 and 90 minutes to complete.
Before the test
- You should not bring jewelry, credit cards, or other valuables to the lab.
- You can take your regular medications before the test.
- You can eat and drink as usual before the test.
- The staff will ask you to remove all jewelry and wear a hospital gown.
During the test
A blood pressure cuff will be placed on both your arms and ankles as you lie on your back. A sonographer will take blood pressure readings after inflating the blood pressure cuffs. The cuffs may feel tight for a short period, and Transducers do not need to be cuffed for other exams.
The sonographer will listen to the blood pressure and heartbeat. There is a slight difference between each blood vessel when the sound is recorded caused by the blood moving through the vessel.
An ultrasound gel that is warm, non-scented, and hypo-allergenic will be applied to the area being scanned, and numerous images will be acquired to visualize the structure of the blood vessels.
As you undergo the exam, you might be asked to move your arms, lay on your side, sit, or stand to obtain the best images of where the problem is located. Exams can last between 30 minutes to one hour, depending on their level of complexity.
After the test
As you wipe off the gel, it will leave a residue on your skin. After the test, you do not need to follow any special instructions. After an ultrasound examination, you can carry on your routine activities as usual without any complications.
Vascular ultrasounds: what happens afterward?
After completing your exam, a radiologist will review the images resulting from the test and interpret them before sending a report to the physician who referred you.
A radiologist may discuss your results with you or fax a report to your doctor if there are any concerns. Your doctor will examine the detailed report describing your diagnosis and recommend the treatment accordingly.
Do Vascular Ultrasounds carry any risks?
Ultrasound is a non-invasive, non-harmful technology. There are times when an ultrasound examination may require pressure to obtain the best image of the area in question, and it may be temporarily uncomfortable, such as when a tender area of the body is scanned.
A venous ultrasound will also cause the veins to constrict briefly as the transducer is pressed against your leg. Using this method, a blood clot can be easily checked without harming the vein. As each section of the vein is evaluated, the pressure may be quite painful for a few seconds.
- https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17606-vascular-ultrasound retrieved on 16 December 2021.
- https://www.aksonogram.com/blog/what-is-a-vascular-ultrasound-and-why-do-it/ retrieved on 16 December 2021.
- https://www.beverlyhospital.org/media/722044/what%20is%20a%20vascular%20ultrasound.pdf retrieved on 16 December 2021.