What is a Vascular Ultrasound?

Vascular ultrasound is an imaging test that uses ultrasound to take pictures of your veins and arteries. Some kinds of vascular ultrasound can also see how the blood is flowing through them. Ultrasound is sonar technology, similar to what bats use to fly. It uses the echoes of high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of what's going on inside your body.

A vascular ultrasound can be used to:
  • locate blockages and blood clots
  • monitor blood flow after a procedure such as a stent or bypass
  • examine or check for an enlarged artery (aneurysm)
  • examine varicose veins
  • aid in the specific placement of needles and catheters

The procedure for a vascular ultrasound is very simple. You will lie on a table and expose the part of your body that needs to be examined. A clear gel will be applied to your skin so that no air will get in the way of the sound waves. A wand called a transducer will be moved over your skin, and grey swirled images of your veins and arteries will appear on a screen over a computer. There are no needles, and although there might be a bit of pressure at some points, it doesn't hurt. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
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