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Understanding the Different Types of Vascular Ultrasound

Understanding the Different Types of Vascular Ultrasound

An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of parts of your body. You’ve probably heard it used in reference to pregnancy. But here at Heart & Vascular Institute, we perform vascular ultrasounds to evaluate how well blood is flowing through your body. 

Our experts use vascular ultrasound to learn more about what’s happening to your heart and in the blood vessels in your legs. Depending on your symptoms, we may recommend a specific vascular study to get more information so that we can create an informed treatment plan. 

What you should know about ultrasound

When you have an ultrasound, a small probe is coated with gel, and placed in contact with your skin. The probe sends high-frequency sound waves through your skin that produce images. There’s no radiation as with X-rays, and the test is noninvasive.

Ultrasound is painless, though the gel might feel a bit sticky and uncomfortable. When you have a vascular ultrasound, your doctor can examine what’s happening in your veins and arteries. 

A Doppler ultrasound is a specialized technique that allows your doctor to evaluate how your blood moves through your blood vessels. 

In most cases, you don’t need to do anything special to prepare for an ultrasound. If your doctor wants to examine the arteries in your abdomen, they may ask you to fast beforehand. You wear a gown during the procedure, and you’ll be asked to remove any jewelry. 

Types of vascular ultrasound

Essentially, vascular ultrasounds are the same, but the name may differ depending on what part of the body is being examined. Common vascular studies we do include: 

Carotid duplex

This ultrasound measures the rate that blood flows through your carotid arteries, or those that lead from your heart to your head. 

Duplex ultrasound

This type of vascular study examines how your blood moves through the arteries and veins throughout your body. It provides information about the speed of your blood flow, if you have any blockages and, if so, where they are. 

Arterial ultrasound

If you have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, we may ask you to have an arterial ultrasound so we can see how well the blood is flowing through your legs. 

After your procedure

Once your ultrasound is complete, your doctor schedules a consultation with you so that they can discuss your results and make recommendations for treatment. You can return to your normal activities, and you shouldn’t experience any pain or side effects from the test. 

Why we request vascular ultrasounds

Many of the conditions we treat at Heart & Vascular Institute involve your vascular system. For example, if you have peripheral artery disease, the blood isn’t moving through the arteries and veins in your legs properly. This can cause pain and lead to serious problems. 

An ultrasound is a noninvasive, painless way for your doctor to properly diagnose vascular problems — and to make appropriate treatment recommendations. 

If you’d like to learn more about vascular studies, or you need to schedule your vascular ultrasound, we’re happy to help. Call or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations in Dearborn, Detroit, or Southfield, Michigan. 

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