DR. MIGUEL CASTELLANOS, M.D, P.A.
SOUTHEAST TEXAS CARDIOLOGY
610 Strickland Dr. Suite #100
Orange, Texas 77630
WHAT IS VASCULAR ULTRASOUND?
Vascular ultrasound is the general term for a non-invasive painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image blood vessels including arteries and veins. Lower extremity venous ultrasound is typically performed if a clot in the vein (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) is suspected. The veins in the legs are compressed and the blood flow is assessed to make sure the vein is not clogged. This test is also used to look for chronic venous insufficiency, or leaky valves in the veins which may cause swelling or edema.
Lower extremity arterial ultrasound may be performed in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), particularly for planning an endovascular procedure or surgery. It is also used after the procedure to monitor stents and grafts for signs of the blockage returning (“restenosis”). If a hematoma develops after a catheterization procedure, arterial ultrasound is also used to check the integrity of the arteries and veins in the groin. No special preparation is required for lower extremity venous or arterial ultrasounds. Other common types of vascular ultrasound performed include carotid ultrasound, non-invasive flow studies, and abdominal aorta ultrasound.
An ultrasound imaging is when a sound wave strikes an object, bounces back or echoes. In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance, size or contour of organs, tissues, and vessels or abnormal masses. In an ultrasound, a transducer (hand held device) both send the sound waves and receives echoing waves. Then the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off internal organs, fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound's pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images. Small loops of the moving real-time images may also be saved.
Doppler ultrasound, a special application of ultrasound, measures the direction and speed of blood cells as they move through vessels. The movement of blood cells causes a change in pitch of the reflected sound waves (called the Doppler effect). A computer collects and processes the sounds and creates graphs or color pictures that represent the flow of blood through the blood vessels.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
HOW IS THE ULTRASOUND PERFORMED?
Ultrasound examinations are painless and easily tolerated by most patients. You will be positioned on the examination table, Dr. Castellanos will apply some warm water-based gel on your skin and then place the transducer firmly against your body, moving it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured. There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined.
If scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer. If a Doppler ultrasound study is performed, you may actually hear pulse-like sounds that change in pitch as the blood flow is monitored and measured. Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry to a powder. The ultrasound gel does not stain or discolor clothing.
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