Vascular Testing

What is Vascular Ultrasound?


Carotid artery branching into external and internal divisions. Patient has head to left and feet to right. Power Doppler ultrasound.
Carotid artery branching into external and internal divisions. Patient has head to left and feet to right. Power Doppler ultrasound.
Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (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. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays), thus there is no radiation exposure to the patient. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Vascular ultrasound provides pictures of the body’s veins and arteries.

A Doppler ultrasound study is usually part of a vascular ultrasound examination.

Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel, including the body’s major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs, neck and head (in infants and children).


What are some common uses of the procedure?

Image of carotid artery—patient lying down, head to left.  a. jugular vein  b. right common carotid artery
Image of carotid artery—patient lying down, head to left.
a. jugular vein
b. right common carotid artery
Sonography is a useful way of evaluating the body’s circulatory system. Vascular ultrasound is performed to:

  • Help monitor the blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body.
  • Locate and identify blockages (stenosis) and abnormalities like plaque or emboli and help plan for their effective treatment.
  • Detect blood clots (deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in the major veins of the legs or arms.
  • Determine whether a patient is a good candidate for a procedure such as angioplasty.
  • Evaluate the success of procedures that graft or bypass blood vessels.
  • Determine if there is an enlarged artery (aneurysm).
  • Determine the source and severity of varicose veins.

Information provided by Radiologyinfo.org