Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound
Peripheral vascular ultrasound is a test used to evaluate the health of blood vessels. Ultrasound uses sound waves to capture images of structures inside the body. It is similar to the use of sonar in submarines.
Reasons for Test
The test may be used for the following reasons:
To investigate the cause of the following symptoms in an arm or leg:
- Increased warmth or coolness of the extremity
- Difficulty finding pulses
- Bulging veins
To diagnose the following:
- Poor circulation due to blocked or narrowed blood vessels
- Blood clots
- Poor blood vessel function
The procedure is also used to evaluate the results of vascular surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
No special preparation is needed for this test. If you smoke, you may be asked to stop smoking leading up to the test.
Description of Test
Gel will be placed on the skin of your arm or leg over the area being tested.
There are two types of ultrasound:
One is a simple one-dimensional beam that detects movement by making a swishing sound. A hand-held device is pushed against your skin in the area being tested. Sound waves are sent into the body and bounce back to the machine. This is used to detect blood flow in arteries that may be narrowed. It may also be used to check for blood flow in veins that the doctor is concerned about.
The other technique makes a two-dimensional image. The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer, which looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off structures in the body and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are converted to images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. He may make a photograph of them as well.
After the Test
You will be able to leave after the test is done.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
American Heart Association
Society of Radiologists in Ultrasound
Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Mercy Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.mercydesmoines.org/services/iowaHeartHospital/vascularUltrasound.asp. Accessed September 1, 2005.
Peripheral vascular library. Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters website. Available at: http://www.chkd.org/about_us/Radiology/PVL.pdf. Accessed September 1, 2005.
Society for Vascular Ultrasound website. Available at: http://www.svunet.org/. Accessed September 1, 2005.
Last reviewed December 2009 by ]]>Craig Clark, DO, FACC, FAHA, FASE]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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