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.
Your physician may recommend that you have this vascular screening exam to evaluate the blood flow to specific organs in your body. Vascular ultrasound can be used to evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow, such as clots
- Stenosis or narrowing of vessels, which may be caused by plaque or emboli
- Tumors, congenital vascular malformations or aneurysms
- Blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body
- Confirm that a blood vessel graft or bypass is working properly
- Source and severity of varicose veins
Ultrasounds are generally quick and virtually pain-free. The technologists at the VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute are highly skilled and certified to perform vascular screening ultrasound exams. They work in close collaboration with our physicians to provide the most accurate and useful imaging possible to help diagnose and treat your condition.