What is a Vascular Ultrasound? How does someone know if they need one?

Vascular ultrasound is a noninvasive ultrasound method used in vascular screening to evaluate your blood circulation. A vascular ultrasound may also be called a duplex study since it combines traditional ultrasound and Doppler ultrasound.

  • Traditional ultrasound uses sound waves that bounce off blood vessels to create pictures.
  • Doppler ultrasound records sound waves reflecting off moving objects, such as blood, to measure their speed and other aspects of how they flow.

Ultrasound is noninvasive, meaning the vascular screening exam does not require the use of needles, dyes, radiation or anesthesia. Ultrasound imaging uses a small transducer or probe, and ultrasound gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves are transmitted from the probe through the gel into the body. The transducer collects the sounds that bounce back and a computer then uses those sound waves to create an image. Since different tissues of the body, such as muscle, bone, and blood vessels have different densities, they show up differently on the image.

If you have symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), you may be a candidate for a peripheral vascular ultrasound examination. There are several types of peripheral ultrasound exams, but each uses high-frequency sound waves as the means of detection.

Ultrasound uses sound waves to provide imaging for the inside of the body. First used for medical purposes in the late 1940s, ultrasound technology has been around for decades and is a safe, reliable way for health care providers to see a picture of what is going on inside the body. The VCU Baird Vascular Institute has the latest vascular screening technology to help diagnose and treat our patients, and we’d love to talk to you more if you have questions.

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