Your circulatory system is responsible for carrying your blood throughout your entire body, delivering oxygen-rich blood to organs and tissues, and taking oxygen-poor blood back to get reoxygenated.
If your blood flow is compromised, it can contribute to unwanted complications, such as an increased risk of heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, and strokes. That’s where vascular studies come into the picture. Medical tests that highlight your blood flow can help spot potential issues before they snowball out of control.
Here at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center in Houston, Texas, we offer vascular ultrasounds to shed light on your blood flow.
In this article, Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand discusses a few of the medical tests that show your blood flow and when you might need one.
Ultrasound imaging is a diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of soft tissue structures and organs. Vascular ultrasounds zero in on your vascular structures and can provide information about your blood flow.
There are many different types of vascular ultrasounds including renal artery ultrasound, carotid artery ultrasound, venous ultrasound (for your upper or lower limbs), and aortoiliac and peripheral artery ultrasound.
You might need a vascular ultrasound to confirm the presence of a blood clot, plaque or other blockages, or narrowed blood vessels. Because vascular ultrasounds show changes in your blood flow and the extent of any blockages, these images are invaluable when it comes to treatment planning.
Peripheral vascular angiography
Angiograms are another type of imaging test that produce X-ray images after you’ve received an injection of a special dye. This contrast agent enhances visibility and can be used to detect narrowed blood vessels as well as blockages. You might need this test to confirm or rule out peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Ankle-brachial index test
An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test doesn’t show your blood flow, but this test may help you decide if you need a test that does show your blood flow. An ABI is a test that checks to see if you have reduced blood flow in your legs, and it does this by comparing the blood pressure in your brachial artery (in your arm) against the blood pressure in the blood vessels in your ankle.
You might need this test if you have suspected peripheral artery disease (PAD). Because this is a nonimaging test, you may still require a vascular ultrasound if this ABI test suggests you have reduced blood flow in your legs. The ultrasound then provides a better picture of what’s going on in the veins in your legs.
Why you might need one
You might need an imaging test if you have the symptoms of peripheral artery disease, chronic venous insufficiency, renal artery disease, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), aneurysms, or if your ABI test indicated reduced blood flow.
In addition to playing a key role in diagnosing conditions, our team also uses vascular ultrasounds to monitor vascular conditions after treatment.
What happens after a vascular ultrasound?
Getting an ultrasound is simple, painless, and quick. When you arrive for a vascular ultrasound, we apply a gel. Sound waves don’t travel as well through air, so the gel acts as a conductive material that helps the sound waves travel efficiently. In turn, this contributes to clearer images of your vascular structures. Once your ultrasound is over, you’re free to carry on with your day without any downtime.
To learn more about medical tests that show your blood flow, call our Houston, Texas, office at 713-300-4886. Or, use our online portal to schedule an appointment.