Vascular Ultrasound

Vascular ultrasound provides pictures of the body’s veins and arteries. A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of a vascular ultrasound examination.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that measures and evaluates the direction and speed of blood cells as it flows through blood vessels in the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). A pulse-like sound that changes in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured may be heard during the examination.

Ultrasound 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 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)
  • determine the source and severity of varicose veins

Doppler ultrasound images can help to see and evaluate:

  •  blockages to blood flow (such as clots)
  •  narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque)
  •  tumors and congenital malformation

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is venous doppler ultrasound?

    It is an ultrasound exam that looks at the veins in your arms or legs to determine if there is a blood clot.

  • What is an arterial doppler ultrasound?

    It is an ultrasound exam that looks at the arteries in your arms or legs to make sure there is not a blockage.

  • What is the difference between arteries and veins and why don’t you look at them both during the same examination?

    Veins and arteries sit next to each other within your body.  Arteries have muscles in their walls to pump blood through them.  Veins do not have muscles in their walls.  They depend on the surrounding muscles in the body, such as leg or arm muscles,  to circulate the blood.  Therefore, the vein testing to evaluate healthy circulation is performed differently for veins and arteries.

  • What is a renal duplex exam?

    This is an ultrasound exam that looks at your kidneys and your bladder, as well as your arteries that supply blood to the kidneys to look for a blockage.

  • What is a doppler?

    A Doppler ultrasound test uses reflected sound waves to evaluate blood as it flows through a blood vessel. It helps doctors evaluate blood flow through the major arteries and veins of the arms, legs, and neck. It can show blocked or reduced blood flow through narrowing in the major arteries of the neck that could cause a stroke. It also can reveal blood clots in leg veins (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) that could break loose and block blood flow to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

    During Doppler ultrasound, a handheld instrument (transducer) is passed lightly over the skin above a blood vessel. The transducer sends and receives sound waves that are amplified through a microphone. The sound waves bounce off solid objects, including blood cells. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). If there is no blood flow, the pitch does not change. Information from the reflected sound waves can be processed by a computer to provide graphs or pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels. These graphs or pictures can be saved for future review or evaluation

Renal Artery Duplex :  No food or drink 8 hrs prior to exam.  Drink 24 oz of water one hour prior to the exam.  Schedule preferably in the morning to eliminate bowel gas interference.

Aorta:  No food or drink 8 hrs prior to exam.

Blue Ridge 919-781-1437 - Cedarhurst 919-877-5400 - Cary 919-781-1437
Clayton 919-877-5400 - Wake Forest 919-877-5400 - Brier Creek 919-877-5400