An ultrasound can be used to screen and diagnose vascular conditions. At Reading Cardiology Associates, our team of expert physicians use a noninvasive ultrasound to evaluate blood flow, check blockages and blood clots to assess damage to the arteries and veins that may affect blood circulation to and from the heart and body areas.

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What Is a Vascular Ultrasound?

Vascular ultrasound is a noninvasive method (also called a duplex study) used to evaluate the circulatory system, arteries, and veins in any body part. Noninvasive means no needles, radiation, dyes, or anesthesia are involved, and the process is painless and safe. Ultrasound imaging is also known as sonography. During an ultrasound, a probe collects sound waves through the examined tissues. The sound waves create images of the body’s arteries and veins. A Doppler ultrasound is part of a vascular examination that evaluates blood flow through the veins and arteries in the body. It is also used to check if there is a blockage in the blood vessels.

Our physicians at Reading Cardiology Associates use a vascular ultrasound to diagnose conditions affecting the vascular system such as peripheral arterial disease, aneurysms, and deep vein thrombosis. These conditions may present a range of symptoms that may make it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis and include:

  • Cramping
  • Leg pain
  • Unsightly veins in the legs
  • Leg swelling

When you come for your consultation, we will ask questions regarding your symptoms to make a proper diagnosis and determine the type of ultrasound required to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. The test may take 30 to 90 minutes.

Why Would I Need a Vascular Ultrasound?

A vascular ultrasound may be used for the following:

  • Blood flow in the neck arteries which supply blood to the brain. 
  • Evaluate varicose veins.
  • To locate and identify blockages (stenosis) and abnormalities (plaque) in the arteries of your legs.
  • To evaluate patients after a vascular procedure such as a stent in one of your peripheral arteries.

What Are the Types of Vascular Ultrasound?

There are various types of vascular ultrasound, including:

Arterial testing ultrasound: This is used to evaluate blood circulation in the arteries of the legs or arms if you have symptoms of peripheral arterial disease.

Duplex ultrasound examines blood movement in the veins and arteries throughout the body. It may also be used to diagnose peripheral artery disease, check the speed of blood flow, and check for blood vessel damage or blockage.

Carotid duplex: Measures blood flow rate through the carotid arteries or arteries from your heart to your brain.

Peripheral venous ultrasound: used to produce images of the veins in your arms or legs. It diagnoses deep vein thrombosis (DVT)- a blood clot in the deep vein of the legs.

What to Expect During a Vascular Ultrasound?

The ultrasound procedure is straightforward and pain-free. The procedure also depends on the type of ultrasound being performed. Before the procedure, your Cardiologist will help you prepare and explain what to expect during testing and what to expect afterward. There is no downtime after completing the test. You may be asked to remove any jewelry and change it into a hospital gown. There are no special preparations before the test. Certain conditions may interfere with a vascular study or test, including:

  • Severe obesity
  • Excessive soft tissue or hair
  • Scar tissue
  • Smoking before the test can lead to false positive studies as it constricts the blood vessels
  • Irregular heart rhythms

During the test, you will lie on a padded examination table, and gel is applied to the targeted area of the skin. A transducer is placed on the site to be examined, and painless, high-frequency sound waves are transmitted throughout the body. The transducer generates images on the ultrasound screen and is held in place until blood flow information has been fully recorded. The images are interpreted by our specialists at Reading Cardiology Associates.

You may experience some minor discomfort or pain when the technician applies some pressure on the examination area. You may hear pulse-like sounds or noises as the technologist monitors blood flow and records the measurements. After the test, the gel is wiped off the skin. The gel doesn’t discolor or stain the clothing. You may resume your normal activities after the vascular ultrasound. There are no harmful side effects of the procedure. The vascular ultrasound results can be expected within 24 to 48 hours.

Contact Reading Cardiology Associates to determine if vascular ultrasound is right for you. We provide a high standard, accurate, and comprehensive ultrasound imaging suite. Call our office or schedule an appointment today for more information.