Vascular Doppler Ultrasound

Vascular ultrasound provides images and functional information about leg and arm arteries and veins. Because ultrasound is real-time imaging, it can show the actual blood flow through arteries, veins and organs. In vascular ultrasound, Doppler is used to evaluate the direction and speed of blood as well as the width of the vessel lumen, as blood flows through vessels in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck. Vascular ultrasound can also be used to assess tumours and congenital or acquired vascular malformations.

During vascular and cardiac ultrasound the patient will hear a pulsating noise that reflects the heartbeat and the speed of blood in the area of interest. The sonographer will apply gel and place a transducer, which transmits sound, over the target area. The movement of blood causes a change in frequency in the reflected sound waves (the Doppler effect) and a computer processes the frequency shift to create colour images, as well as a moving graph, which is used to measure important criteria, such as peak systolic velocity.

A doctor might request a vascular ultrasound to assess:

  • Aorta – to check for aortic aneurysm
  • Carotid arteries of the neck – to check for arterial disease and blockages
  • Leg or arm arteries – to check for vessel disease and blockages
  • Check artery or vein size and position prior to surgery