Patients seek treatment for varicose veins because of both cosmetic and health concerns.  These gnarled, ropelike blood vessels are typically blue or red.  Without adequate treatment, they can become painful and result in serious medical complications.  One important tool in treating them at a Houston-area vein center is duplex ultrasound.

How Does Duplex Ultrasound Work?

Vein clinics depend on duplex ultrasound to visualize how blood moves through vessels.  This technology is a blend of two kinds of ultrasound, MedlinePlus reports:

Traditional ultrasound forms images by bouncing sound waves off blood vessels.
Doppler ultrasound records sound waves as they reflect off blood to measure the speed at which it moves and other factors related to flow.
The majority of venous ultrasound imaging examines veins in a patient’s extremities.  The Radiological Society of North America, Inc. notes that venous ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure performed on an outpatient basis in non-emergency situations.  It uses no ionizing radiation and produces no effects known to be harmful.

How Does a Vein Center Use This Technology?

The Office on Women’s Health states that half of Americans at least 50 years old suffer from varicose veins, which are more prevalent in women than in men.  Duplex ultrasound allows physicians to examine problem vessels under the skin’s surface.  It is useful in both diagnosis and planning the best course of treatment for a patient.

Doctors utilize duplex ultrasound to look for a number of conditions that can affect blood vessels in the abdomen, extremities, kidneys, and neck, according to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Among them are these disorders:

  • Varicose veins
  • Blood clots
  • Abdominal aneurysms
  • Disease of an arm or leg artery
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Carotid occlusive disease
  • Arterial occlusions
  • Renal vascular disease

Physicians can order a number of duplex ultrasound procedures, including:

  • Renal duplex for intestines and kidneys
  • Mesenteric duplex for intestines, spleen, stomach, and liver
  • Carotid duplex for checking blood flow through carotid arteries to the brain
  • Arm and leg duplex for the extremities

In addition to demonstrating how blood flows throughout the body, this test can determine the width of a vessel and pinpoint blockages.  Vein doctors consider it less invasive than other tools such as venography and arteriography.  A normal result signals no blockage in or narrowing of a vessel and that the patient has normal blood pressure.

Vein specialists consider data from duplex ultrasounds crucial in determining how best to help Houston-area patients.  Patients can schedule the test, which normally takes only about half an hour to complete, at their convenience.

Examining blood vessels with this technology requires no special preparation except no food or drinks after midnight for patients undergoing an abdominal study.  Patients are able to immediately return to their regular daily routines after a duplex ultrasound study.