Venous ultrasound is used to diagnose vascular conditions in the legs. This procedure can effectively detect blood clots in the legs that may cause dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. While many diseased leg veins are visible on the skin in the form of varicose or spider veins, some patients may experience significant venous reflux or backflow, that can only be detected through ultrasound imaging. A venous doppler ultrasound shows a thorough, detailed image of the veins, along with the direction of blood flow, to help accurately diagnose vascular conditions.
Reasons for Using Venous Ultrasound
This exam can identify clot or blocked veins and faulty valves. Venous ultrasound is an essential part of successful vein treatment. Most often it is performed on patients with leg swelling, varicose or spider veins, or patients with symptoms of peripheral venous insufficiency. Symptoms of these conditions may include:
- Pain, cramping, numbness, itching
- Pain made worse by standing
- Pain improved by elevating the leg
- Discoloration or hardening of the skin on the leg
- Ulceration of the leg
The process may also be used to pinpoint a location for needle or catheter placement.
Venous Ultrasound Procedure
The venous ultrasound procedure is noninvasive. During the exam, a clear gel is applied to the targeted area of the arms or legs and a transducer is moved across the site. The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves which produce an image on a screen of the blood vessels showing any blockage, clot, narrowing or occlusion of the blood vessel being viewed.
Conditions that may be diagnosed by venous ultrasound include:
- Superficial thrombophlebitis
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Venous insufficiency
- Peripheral venous disease
- Vascular tumors of the arms or legs.
The patient experiences no pain during a venous ultrasound so there is no anesthesia or recovery required. Another advantage of this diagnostic test is that the image on the computer screen appears immediately, so the diagnosis is generated quickly.
There are no risks associated with the ultrasound exam. There is no exposure to radiation. The venous doppler ultrasound is performed at Raleigh Vein and Laser’s vascular laboratory. The venous examination is performed by a registered vascular sonographer and interpreted by Dr. Messier.