Vascular disease is a serious condition that involves abnormal functioning within the veins of the legs, which can lead to complications such as aneurysm and stroke. Also known as a lower extremity ultrasound, a venous ultrasound provides diagnostic images of the vessels within the lower extremities, most commonly used to diagnose vascular conditions in the legs. This procedure can effectively detect blood clots in the legs that may cause conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
While many diseased leg veins are visible on the skin in the form of varicose or spider veins, many patients may experience significant vein reflux that can only be detected through ultrasound imaging. A venous ultrasound can show a thorough, detailed image of the veins, along with the direction of blood flow to help accurately diagnose vascular conditions.
Indications for Venous Ultrasound
This procedure can identify narrowed or blocked arteries or veins, clotting or faulty valves, and is essential in achieving successful vein treatment. It is most often performed on patients with leg swelling and varicose and spider veins.
In addition to its diagnostic purpose, venous ultrasound can also be used to place a needle or catheter in a vein and plan out the removal of narrowed or blocked veins.
A Doppler ultrasound can be used detect and evaluate:
- Blood flow blockages
- Narrowing of blood vessels
- Tumors and other congenital defects
Your doctor will determine which type of procedure is most effective for your individual symptoms or condition.
Venous Ultrasound Procedure
During the venous ultrasound procedure, a clear gel is applied to the targeted area of the legs and a transducer is moved across the area to produce internal images. The transducer sends out high frequency sound waves and then “listens” to the response, creating an image based on the sound reflected back at the machine. For some patients, a Doppler ultrasound may be performed, which measures the speed and direction of blood as it moves through the vessels.
This noninvasive procedure is painless for patients and usually takes just a few minutes to perform. No preparation is required; patients are simply asked to wear loose-fitting clothing and to remove all jewelry before the exam. There is no anesthesia required and no downtime associated with this procedure. The results of this procedure appear on a computer screen in real time so that doctor and patient can review them together.
There are no risks associated with the ultrasound procedure, including no exposure to ionizing radiation. Once the results have been analyzed, your doctor will determine a personalized treatment plan to relieve swelling, pain and other symptoms, and to relieve any blockages within the legs to ensure proper blood flow.