Vascular studies are noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) procedures used to assess the blood flow in arteries and veins. The purpose of these studies includes checking the underlying cause of decreased blood flow in your arteries, from conditions such as:
- Varicose Veins
- Embolus (Blood Clot)
- Other Inflammation
The vascular study can also check for the success of a procedure to improve blood flow and more.
How Does A Vascular Study Work?
A transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the skin at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the blood vessels, where the waves echo off of the blood cells. The transducer picks up the reflected waves and sends them to an amplifier, which makes the ultrasonic sound waves audible.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis which means that patients will be discharged on the day of the procedure.
Types of Vascular Studies
A doppler ultrasound vascular study is what you commonly think of when the term ultrasound is used. Doppler ultrasound shows your vein specialist the flow of blood through the veins. This data allows us to understand more about any potential issues, blockages or restrictions. Color doppler adds color to show the direction in which the blood flows. There are typically two different forms of vascular study:
- Carotid duplex scan to check the carotid artery of the neck.
- PVR or Pulse Volume Recording
Risks and Considerations of a Vascular Study
A vascular study is a very safe procedure with virtually no preparation necessary and very little if any risk. A couple considerations for certain patients include:
- Smoking and drinking caffeine before the procedure may restrict blood vessels and create abnormal results. You shouldn’t smoke or drink caffeine for several hours before the procedure
- If you have heart disease or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) please speak to your cardiologist and vein specialist