Ultrasound uses sound, not x-rays, to produce images. A probe placed on the surface of the body sends a thin high-frequency sound beam (above the range that humans can hear) into the body. The sound bounces off of the blood vessels and soft tissues of the leg and back to the probe. A computer is able to construct images based on the time required for these echoes to return. Doppler ultrasound is able to look at blood flow. The computer is able to show movement of blood through vessels. Ultrasound of the leg veins takes approximately 30 minutes to perform.
Common reasons for a Venous Doppler Ultrasound
Some of the more common reasons why your doctor would order a venous Doppler ultrasound include:
- Leg swelling
- Leg pain
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)
Who should not have a Venous Doppler?
Ultrasound is an extremely safe procedure and there are very few conditions that would prevent it from being performed. Since a probe must be placed in contact with the skin, ultrasound may not be possible in those with open sores or large open wounds over the area of interest.
How do I prepare for the test?
There is no preparation for a venous Doppler ultrasound.
Who performs the examination?
An ultrasound technologist (a person trained to take ultrasound images) performs the examination.
What happens during the examination?
After registering with the receptionist, you will be asked to change into a gown. You will have to remove your pants/slacks and pantyhose so the skin of the leg is exposed. You will be taken into the examination room, which contains an ultrasound machine and an examination table. You will be asked to lie on the exam table on your back. The gown will be raised to the top of your leg. The technologist will apply gel to your skin to improve contact with the probe.
The examination will begin in your groin area and the vessels will be followed along the thigh and behind the knee. You may be asked to turn onto your stomach to examine behind the knee. The technologist will apply pressure with the probe looking for changes in the veins. Doppler will be used to examine blood flow. When doppler is turned on you will hear a noise from the ultrasound machine. You may be asked to hold your breath or change positions during the procedure.
What can I expect after the examination?
Venous Doppler Ultrasound has no after-effects and you should be able to return to activities of daily living.
What are the risks of the procedure?
Ultrasound is an extremely safe procedure that does not expose the body to x-rays. Ultrasound transmits very small quantities of sound energy into the body but this produces no known harmful effects when standard techniques are used.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
The results are interpreted by one of our radiologists and the results are sent to the doctor who ordered the ultrasound by courier or fax.
Arrangements to discuss the results of the ultrasound can be made with the doctor who ordered it.