What to Expect Before, During and After Duplex Ultrasound
Your vein doctor may request that you undergo duplex ultrasound to diagnose a vein problem or prior to vein treatment. Most patients find it helpful to learn about the test, and to know what to expect before, during and after an ultrasound.
Ultrasound is a painless, non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to create a picture of an organ. A vein doctor, also known as a vascular surgeon, orders an ultrasound to make a picture of your veins and the blood flowing within them. The doctor may request a vascular ultrasound to evaluate your symptoms, such as varicose veins, leg pain or swelling, shortness of breath, or suspected blood clots in your legs or lungs.
The name “duplex ultrasound” refers to the fact that this type of test incorporates two elements: a grayscale image of your vein and color images that visualize the flow of blood within the veins.
Your local vein clinic has a specialized team of physicians, nurses, and technologists who are experts in duplex ultrasound.
What to Expect with Duplex Ultrasound
Before the test
There is no special preparation for duplex ultrasound of the veins. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and, for your convenience, leave your jewelry at home.
During the procedure
You may need to wear a medical gown.
You will lie on your back on a comfortable exam table, with your arms at your sides. The technologist may ask you to change positions several times through the test. You will need to hold still otherwise.
The ultrasound technologist will squirt warm gel onto your legs and rub a handheld transducer across the affected area. A computer measures how the ultrasound signals bounce back to the transducer. The gel creates a tight bond between your skin and the transducer, and this tight bond reduces static and allows the ultrasound waves to move freely from the transducer to the veins.
You may hear a swishing sound. Do not be alarmed – it is merely the sound of blood moving through your veins and is completely harmless. You may feel pressure as the technologist moves the transducer against your skin but the procedure does not usually cause any discomfort.
The technologist may place a blood pressure cuff on your arms and legs during the test. If so, the technologist is measuring your ankle-brachial index (ABI), a quick and non-invasive way to check for peripheral artery disease, a condition where the arteries of the arms or legs are blocked.
The procedure takes about a half an hour, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.
After the test
You probably will not have to follow any special instructions after undergoing ultrasound. There are no side effects associated with the procedure.
Your vein doctor will call you with the results of your duplex ultrasound and explain what they mean in terms of your particular vein problem. The results are often available to your vascular surgeon immediately after the test.
For more information about what to expect with duplex ultrasound, consult with your vein doctor.