What is it?
Ultrasound procedures involve the use of very high frequency sound waves. The actual sound cannot be heard with the human ear. The sound waves are sent into the body using a hand held instrument called a transducer. The various structures in the body including organs, tissue and fluids (such as blood and water) reflect sound waves differently because of their different density. Some of the sound waves reflect back to the transducer much like your voice echoes back to you in an empty building. The reflected sound waves are received by the transducer and sent to a computer to be processed into pictures.
What will happen to me?
The sonographer (the person who operates the ultrasound machine) will assist you as you lie on your back on a padded table. A warm gel will be spread on your leg. The gel improves the ability to send and receive the sound waves between the transducer and your body. The sonographer moves the transducer over your leg while frequently changing the position and angle of the transducer. This action guides the sound waves to specific parts of the body so that pictures can be taken. The sonographer will periodically apply pressure on your leg with the transducer to observe the vein compressing. The sonographer will also squeeze your calf with their hand to increase the blood flow in your leg.
Sometimes the physician who will interpret the ultrasound procedure will also operate the transducer.
How long will this take?
This ultrasound procedure usually takes 45 - 60 minutes to complete.
What will I feel, will it hurt?
Usually the ultrasound room lights are turned down to darken the room. This helps the sonographer to see the video screen better. Ultrasound procedures are not painful. You will feel some pressure as the sonographer presses the transducer against your leg.
What will the test show?
This exam is used primarily to determine the presence or absence of blood clots in your veins.
How do I get ready?
No preparation is needed for this exam.