A vascular ultrasound is a noninvasive ultrasound, also known as a duplex that is used to examine the circulation in the blood vessels. A vascular ultrasound can be used to evaluate arteries and veins in nearly any part of the body, including blood vessels in the neck, abdomen, arms and legs. Some examples of vascular ultrasounds are ankle brachial indexes (ABI), radial brachial indexes (RBI), venous and carotid.
With invention and addition of color doppler technology to the ultrasound, speed and direction of blood flow can be measured. By assigning different colors to direction of flow, abnormal blood flow patterns can be assessed.
Hence vascular ultrasound can be used to assess vascular occlusion (blockage), narrowing of blood vessels (stenosis), bulging of arteries (aneurysms) and DVT.
Arterial and venous duplex exam is a very simple, non-invasive and painless test; it incorporates Doppler ultrasound along with traditional ultrasound.
Traditional ultrasound uses sound waves to take images of arteries and veins which will show stenosis (narrowing) and occlusion (blockage) of the arteries and veins. Whereas Doppler ultrasound uses the sound waves to detect the flow of blood in arteries and veins. Being a combination of both the traditional and Doppler ultrasound, duplex exam shows the location, the type and the severity of the vascular disease. Some of the commonly used duplex ultrasounds are carotid duplex, renal duplex, and mesenteric duplex along with other vascular ones.
Arterial and venous duplex ultrasound can help diagnose Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), Aortic Aneurysm and other vascular disorders. Sometimes it is also used for venous mapping for cardiac bypass surgery.