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Venous Duplex Ultrasound

(Venous Duplex Study; B-mode Imaging)

Definition

An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. A venous duplex ultrasound is an ultrasound that looks at the flow of blood through the veins in the arms or legs.

Reasons for Test

The test may be used for the following reasons:
  • To investigate the cause of the following symptoms in an arm or leg:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Increased warmth
    • Bulging veins
  • To diagnose the following:
Deep Vein Thrombosis
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Possible Complications

There are no major complications associated with this procedure.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

No special preparation is needed for this test.

Description of Test

You will be asked to lie on a table. Gel will be placed on the skin of your arm or leg, over the veins being tested.
The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer, which looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off structures in the body and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are converted to images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. He may make a photograph of them as well.
The technologist may push the probe firmly or softly against your skin in order to better see the vein and to see if it collapses under pressure.

After Test

You can get dressed and go home. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

How Long Will It Take?

The length of the test varies, depending on your situation. In most cases, it will take between 15-45 minutes.

Will It Hurt?

In general, this test is not painful. You may feel some mild discomfort as pressure is applied to your arm or leg.

Results

A radiologist, cardiologist, or vascular surgeon will read the images. The test results will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will notify you of the results and provide you with recommendations.

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
  • Your symptoms continue or worsen
  • You develop any new symptoms
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

FamilyDoctor.org - American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

RadiologyInfo.org - Radiological Society of North America http://www.radiologyinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Family Physicians http://www.cfp.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Deep vein thrombosis. Updated May 5, 2014. Accessed May 7, 2014.

Matic PA, Vlajinac HD, et al. Chronic venous disease: Correlation between ultrasound findings and the clinical, etiologic, anatomic and pathophysiologic classification. Phlebology. 2013 Jul 15 [Epub ahead of print].

Ultrasound—venous (extremities). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?PG=venousus. Updated August 27, 2013. Accessed May 7, 2014.

Venous ultrasound of the legs (lower extremity doppler). Harvard Health Publications. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diagnostic-tests/venous-ultrasound-of-the-legs.htm. Accessed May 7, 2014.

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