What is a duplex ultrasound?
Duplex ultrasound uses sound waves to detect how blood flows through blood vessels and to reveal any blockages. It combines traditional ultrasound with Doppler ultrasound. Regular ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of organs within the body. Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to evaluate blood as it flows through a blood vessel.
What are the indications of a duplex ultrasound?
A duplex ultrasound can help diagnose the following conditions:
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): narrowing of the blood vessels that obstruct blood flow to the arms or legs, usually due to atherosclerosis (fatty plaques in walls of blood vessels) or other diseases
- Deep venous thrombosis (DVT): a blood clot is formed in a vein and the clot can move through the blood stream to the lungs
- Aortic aneurysms: abnormal bulging of a major artery, which may lead to fatal rupture
- Cerebrovascular disease: abnormalities in blood vessels supplying the brain
- Chronic venous disease: disease in veins supplying the leg
- Renal artery disease: atherosclerosis in an artery supplying the kidneys
- Mesenteric arterial disease: blockage of arteries supplying blood to the intestine and other abdominal organs
It is also used for mapping veins during coronary bypass surgery.
How is a duplex ultrasound performed?
During the procedure, you are asked to lie down on a table, a gel is applied to help transmit the sound waves and a handheld device called a transducer is gently moved on the area to be examined. As the transducer moves, the signals are transmitted to the computer that changes the sound waves into images. During the test, you may hear a “swishing” sound, which is the sound of the blood moving through the body.
What can you expect after a duplex ultrasound?
Following duplex ultrasound, you can resume your normal activities without any restrictions.
Are there any complications of a duplex ultrasound?
The duplex ultrasound test is a very safe test and is not associated with any complications.