• Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound


    Peripheral vascular ultrasound is a test used to evaluate the health of blood vessels. Ultrasound uses sound waves to capture images of structures inside the body.

    Reasons for Test

    The test may be used to investigate the cause of the following symptoms:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Increased warmth or coolness in the extremity
    • Difficulty finding pulses
    • Bulging veins
    It may also be used to diagnose the cause or severity of:
    • Poor circulation due to blocked or narrowed blood vessels
    • Blood clots
    • Poor blood vessel function
    Leg Veins
    nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    The procedure is also used to evaluate the results of vascular surgery.

    Possible Complications

    There are no major complications associated with this test.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Test

    No special preparation is needed for this test.

    Description of Test

    Gel will be placed on the skin of your arm or leg over the area being tested.
    There are 2 types of ultrasound:
    One is a simple 1-dimensional beam that detects movement by making a swishing sound. A hand-held device is pushed against your skin in the area being tested. Sound waves are sent into the body and bounce back to the machine. This is used to detect blood flow in arteries that may be narrowed. It may also be used to check for blood flow in veins that the doctor is concerned about.
    The other technique makes a 2-dimensional image. The ultrasound machine has a hand-held instrument called a transducer, which looks like a microphone or wand. The transducer is pushed against your skin where the gel was applied. The transducer sends sound waves into your body. The waves bounce off structures in the body and echo back to the transducer. The echoes are converted to images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. Photograph of them mat be taken as well.

    After the Test

    You will be able to leave after the test is done.

    How Long Will It Take?

    30-60 minutes

    Will It Hurt?



    The results will let your doctor know if you need further testing or treatment.

    Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if you have any questions about the test, your condition, or your test results.
    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    American Heart Association http://www.heart.org

    Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America http://www.radiologyinfo.org


    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca

    Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada http://www.mtsinai.on.ca


    Vascular ultrasound. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart%5Fvascular%5Finstitute/conditions%5Ftreatments/treatments/vascular%5Fultrasound.html. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    Vascular ultrasound. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=vascularus. Updated June 23, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    What is vascular ultrasound? Vascular ultrasound website. Available at: http://www.vascularultrasound.net/vascular-ultrasound. Updated October 14, 2010. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.