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Vascular Testing


Vascular testing evaluates the blood vessels. These blood vessels, called arteries and veins, transport blood through your body. Ultrasound testing is used frequently in vascular testing. An ultrasound machine and special probe are used. The probe creates high frequency sound waves. The sound waves travel through the body, bounce off structures, and return to the ultrasound machine producing a picture. The sound waves also carry important information about blood flow. This kind of ultrasound, called Doppler, shows how well blood flows through the blood vessels. Some vascular tests use a Doppler probe and blood pressure cuffs to look for blockages in the blood vessels.


Your provider may order a vascular test if they suspect that you have a blood vessel disorder. There are many different types of blood vessel disorders. The most common disorder of the arteries is a clogging or blockage. This is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can occur in almost any artery in the body. The signs and symptoms of atherosclerosis vary and depend on the location of the blocked arteries. There are also many disorders of the veins. One type of vein disorder is blood clots. This is called deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis occurs most frequently in the veins of the leg. This is a serious disorder and may require immediate medical treatment. Another disorder of the veins is venous disease. Venous disease, sometimes called venous insufficiency, occurs when the vein walls become weak and blood flows backward in the legs. This can cause leg discomfort, leg swelling, skin color changes, and leg sores.


Vascular tests are performed by sonographers and specially trained vascular technologists. Depending on the type of test being performed you may be asked to change into a gown. The tests are usually performed while you are lying on a bed on your back. Some vein tests may be performed while you are standing or in an upright position. If you are having an ultrasound test, the sonographer will place a small amount of gel on the ultrasound probe and place it on the area being evaluated. If you are having a vascular test to evaluate the arteries in your legs the sonographer will use several blood pressure cuffs. The cuffs inflate at different levels to obtain blood pressures readings and Doppler information. Vascular studies can be performed in as little as 15 minutes. Some vascular studies take as long as 1 1/2 hours to complete.