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A vascular ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic test which utilizes high-frequency sound waves to provide images of the blood flow in vessels such as the arteries and veins. Ultrasounds are used detect blockages both in terms of location and severity in the blood vessels. Ultrasound may be used on its own or with additional diagnostic procedures. Throughout the vascular ultrasound, sound waves are conveyed through the tissues of the region being assessed. These sound waves reflect off blood cells flowing within the vessels. When the sound wave bounces back through the transducer, the physician can use the information to calculate their speed. The sound waves are logged and presented on a computer screen.
There are several types of ultrasound exams. Some include:
The patient will wear comfortable clothing and have a brief physical exam. Then he or she will lie down on an examination table, and the technologist will guide the patient into the best position to visualize the blood vessels. The technologist will spread a gel over the area being viewed to enhance the movement of the sound waves through the body. An ultrasound probe, called a transducer, will be guided over the area and as the waves travel through the soft tissue and bounce back to the transducer, images will form on a video screen allowing Dr. Suri to see any blockages and gauge their severity. It is possible that if the veins in the legs are being examined that the patient will be asked to walk on a treadmill to see if any exercise-related changes occur. The procedure usually takes around an hour.