When your doctor informs you that a vascular ultrasound is required, he or she needs to check whether blood is flowing effectively to all organs and tissue throughout your body. The ultrasound also checks whether there are any blockages and abnormalities and tests for the presence of blood clots. In other cases, you may have undergone a particular procedure, and the doctor may want to monitor the success and healing.
What Is a Vascular Ultrasound?
It is a procedure carried out by your doctor, radiologist or sonographer to examine the inside parts of your body through the use of sound waves. The process is painless, so do not be scared. The equipment to be used will consist of a computer, a display screen, a transducer and some other electronics. The transducer will be a small handheld device that will be placed on the area on your body to be scanned. A gel (ultrasound gel), which may be slightly cold or warm, may be applied on the skin before the transducer is placed. The equipment will then be able to pick images of your arteries and veins.
You may also hear of the term Doppler ultrasound. This is a part of the vascular ultrasound procedure. It is a technique used to examine blood flow through major arteries and veins in your arms, legs, abdomen and even head, in the case of infants.
What Should You Expect?
You may be required to wear a hospital gown; therefore, wear some loose clothing. You will lie on your back on the examination seat/table, and depending on which area the procedure will be done (leg, arm or abdomen) some gel will be applied. The primary purpose of this gel is to remove any air pockets that may exist between your skin and the transducer. The air pockets interfere with the sound waves. The transducer can also be called a probe. The probe will then be placed on your gelled skin and moved back and forth to get the best image of the area.
During a Doppler ultrasound, you might hear some sounds resembling pulses, which will change in pitch.
If you are a bit nervous, you can talk to your sonographer, and both of you can carry out the procedure together. The sonographer may turn the monitor to you and show you your arteries, which can be fun to watch.
After getting good images, your doctor will wipe the gel off and ask you to get dressed and wait for your results.