Diagnosing vascular disease accurately is essential for appropriate treatment. Because so many patient report no symptoms, or have symptoms that indicate other health problems, it is very important to be evaluated by an experienced vascular specialist.
Vascular Diagnostics for Vein Pain
At MedStar Union Memorial, we use a variety of tests to diagnose vascular disease and vein pain including:
- Abdominal Duplex
- Arterial Duplex for legs and arms
- Venous Duplex for legs and arms
- Carotid Duplex
- Arterial Doppler for legs and arms
- Non-Invasive Diagnostics
- Minimally Invasive Diagnostics
Vascular Ultrasound Diagnostic Testing: What to Expect
All of these tests are conducted in the same basic manner. They may differ on how long they take.
You are asked to wear a gown and lie down on a table. The ultrasound technician will apply a clear, warm gel to the affected area, and glide a special ultrasound wand, known as a transducer, over the area. The soundwaves from the wand bounce back to the computer, which interprets the images on screen and makes it possible for your specialists to diagnose you.
The abdominal Duplex test uses ultrasound to assess blood flow in the abdominal vessels to determine if there is a blockage of the arteries or ballooning of the aorta known as an aneurysm. It is often used to evaluate an unusual sound heard, or a pulsating mass felt by your physician during a physical exam. It can also be used as part of a preoperative evaluation for a major surgical procedure. The test usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes to complete, and there are no special preparations.
This test uses ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries of the legs and arms. It is often used before and after a procedure to restore blood flow to your arms or legs, helping to determine if the procedure was successful. It takes about 30 minutes to complete.
The venous Duplex test assesses blood flow through the leg and arm veins. Ultrasound is used to check for an obstruction or clot that may slow or block proper blood flow back to the heart. The test takes 30 minutes to complete.
The carotid Duplex test uses ultrasound to determine if there is any narrowing or blockage to the carotid arteries in the neck that carry blood flow to the brain. It is often used to evaluate an unusual sound heard by your physician during a physical exam or as part of a preoperative evaluation for a major surgical procedure. The test takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
The arterial Doppler is a blood pressure test for the arteries in your legs and arms. Normally blood pressure is similar in the legs or arms. If blood pressure is lower in the legs, it may mean that narrowing inside the leg or arm arteries is interfering with circulation, a condition know as peripheral arterial disease. In order to accurately get blood pressure measurements, Doppler ultrasound is used to determine the amount of blood flow in the arms, legs and feet. This test takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
- Duplex Scan - An ultrasound study that is used to assess blockages, narrowing or other abnormalities of the blood vessels.
- Arterial Doppler - A test that uses sound waves to measure the blood pressures in the arms and legs to make sure there is a normal flow.
The Non-Invasive Vascular Lab at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is fully accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL) for the non-invasive testing of all peripheral arterial, extracranial cerebrovascular, venous and visceral diseases. The lab is staffed by certified vascular (RVT) and ultrasound (RDMS) technologists, dedicated to providing comprehensive care in the detection of vascular disease.
Our lab is one of a select number of vascular laboratories in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to meet or exceed the ICAVL standards for non-invasive vascular testing. The lab is staffed by certified vascular (RVT)and ultrasound (RDMS) technologists who are dedicated to providing comprehensive non-invasive testing to detect a complete spectrum of vascular diseases.
- CT Scan - A special X-ray test that produces cross-sectional images of the body using x-rays and a computer. A CT Scan can see inside other parts of the body and areas that cannot be seen on regular X-rays. CT Scanning is the diagnostic test of choice in the diagnosis of abdominal and thoracic aneurysmal disease.
Performed as an outpatient in our state-of-the-art endovascular suite, these procedures require only a local anesthetic and a tiny puncture into the vessel.
- Angiography (angiogram) - An X-ray of the blood vessels. Dye (contrast) is injected into a blood vessel through a small catheter and pictures are taken of the vessels to evaluate the exact location and extent of blockages or narrowing of the vessel. A treatment plan can then be formulated based on the findings.
- Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) - A test used to provide detailed information about the blood vessel, and to determine the best treatment option. A small catheter with an ultrasound transducer (instrument that produces sound waves off the body tissue) at the tip is inserted into the vessel and advanced to the area of disease to get an ultrasound scan from inside the vessel.