Arterial Ultrasound

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?

Your ultrasound procedure consists of three (3) parts. The PVR inflates the blood pressure cuffs a little so that the machine can measure the size difference of your legs. The next part is called segmental pressures and the cuffs need to be inflated enough to temporarily stop the flow of blood. This is the same process that is used to take your blood pressure. The final part is the Doppler, which uses a pencil shaped probe to record the movement of blood in your arteries. This is noisy, but not painful.

How long will this test take?

This ultrasound procedure usually takes 90 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 abdomen.

What will the test show?

This procedure will show whether the arteries in your leg are open or blocked. Blocked arteries in the legs cause claudication or pain in your legs when you walk. Other symptoms of blocked arteries are discoloration of skin and loss of hair on your legs.

How do I get ready?

There is no preparation needed for this exam, however you will be asked to change into a gown at the time of the exam.