It goes without saying that blood flow is absolutely essential to maintaining good health. A lack of adequate blood flow, otherwise known as venous insufficiency, can cause a wide range of medical issues from the purely cosmetic (superficial spider veins) to the extremely serious (heart attacks and strokes).
For centuries, doctors had to rely on outward signs and symptoms in order to diagnose and treat blood flow problems. Today, however, doctors can look beneath the skin to see how blood is flowing in real time using a device called the duplex ultrasound
How Duplex Ultrasound Works
The “duplex” part of the duplex ultrasound signifies the fact that this device combines two different types of ultrasound technology. Using traditional ultrasound technology, it creates pictures by bouncing sound waves off of blood vessels. To examine the flow of blood, it concurrently uses Doppler ultrasound, a technology that can record the speed and trajectory of moving objects and liquid substances.
During the duplex ultrasound process, a medical professional moves a wand, called a transducer, over any areas of concern. This transducer emits sound waves that reflect back to a central computer to create an accurate visual depiction of the patient’s veins and the blood that flows through them. Medical professionals can also use a duplex ultrasound device to see vascular plaque and other features of concern.
Why It Is Important
The duplex ultrasound is the first step to understanding a number of important health concerns and finding a treatment that is appropriate for the patient. The device is particularly useful in the diagnosis of…
- Varicose veins
- Blood clots
- Arterial occlusions
- Abdominal aneurysms
- Renal vascular disease
What to Expect
There is generally no preparation necessary for the duplex ultrasound procedure. However, you should always inform the person performing the ultrasound exam if you are taking blood thinners or other vascular medications that may affect the results of the test.
The procedure can be administered to patients in comfortable clothing. Many facilities will ask you to wear disposable shorts or a medical gown. After you lie down on an exam table, a medical professional will spread a special gel over the area being tested. This gel aids in the transduction of sound waves and will help produce a clearer and more accurate picture.
Duplex ultrasound examinations are completely painless and normally quite easy for the patient. The entire procedure typically takes around 30 minutes and generally produces no side effects or complications. The results of the procedure are often immediately available to your doctor.
For more information about duplex ultrasound technology and its benefits, contact Dr. Gamal Wazni and the vascular specialists at Tampa, Florida’s United Vein Centers. They will be happy to tell you if a duplex ultrasound can help diagnose and treat your particular heath condition.