Vascular Ultrasound in Ottawa

For patients with vascular conditions, diagnosis is a critical first step to finding answers. At our clinic in Ottawa, our experienced radiologists perform vascular ultrasounds. 

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Vascular Ultrasounds, Ottawa

What is a Vascular Ultrasound?

A vascular ultrasound test at Premier Imaging is a painless, non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to help us produce images of blood vessels, veins, and arteries in any part of the body, from the neck to the arms and legs.

This test is also known as a duplex study and may be performed to evaluate the success of a bypass or stent following a vascular procedure, diagnose a narrowing of arteries, or reveal other important information such as the location and severity of disease. 

No matter where you are in the diagnostic process, you'll likely have concerns about your condition and how it may impact your short and long-term health. With a vascular ultrasound, we may be able to find a cause for the swollen veins that often accompany clots or deep vein thrombosis, or other painful symptoms.

Our expert radiologists provide the highest standard of comprehensive diagnostic imaging to help your doctor make an accurate, efficient diagnosis. This can put you well on your way to being able to effectively manage your condition and enjoying quality of life.

We look forward to playing an integral role in your physical health and wellbeing and can address any concerns you or your healthcare team may have. 

The Vascular Ultrasound Procedure

During a vascular ultrasound, the radiologist will monitor how fast sound waves are fed back to the ultrasound machine. This critical piece of data helps us learn how fast the blood is flowing through the vessel. If it is moving too quickly, this may indicate an obstruction or narrowing. 

  • Conditions affecting the veins, arteries, or blood vessels can severely impact long-term health and well-being. That's why it's important to have an expert radiologist on your side. Our team is deeply invested in your health and looks forward to guiding you through every step of the diagnostic process.
    - Dr. Geoff Doherty

Patient Preparation

Here is what you can expect during each phase of the process, in addition to details on what to bring with you to your appointment at our clinic.

  • Before The Test

    Please wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing to your appointment. You may be asked to remove all jewelry and clothing from the area of your body that will be examined, and to wear a gown while the procedure is being performed.

    If the exam is to be performed on your abdominal vessels, we recommend fasting before a procedure unless you are coming in for an urgent vascular ultrasound screening.

    Because ultrasound machines are so sensitive to motion, the examination process may be prolonged if a child is crying or moving around while being examined. To ensure the test goes smoothly and as efficiently as possible, you may want to explain the procedure and what will happen during it to the child before the exam.

    Another tip some parents or guardians find helpful: Bring small games or other forms of entertainment to distract the child while the exam is completed, to help the time pass more quickly.

  • During The Test

    You will likely be asked to lie facing up on the exam table that may be tilted or moved as required to increase the quality of the images.

    A technologist will apply a clear, water-based gel to the part of your body being tested. The gel will help the transducer connect securely with your body and keep any air pockets from coming between your skin and the transducer, as these may block sound waves from entering your body.

    The transducer will then be waved over specific areas of interest and the technologist may move the sound beam from different locations so images of certain areas can be captured.

    You will usually not feel any discomfort from the transducer being applied to the area being examined, though you may feel minor pressure or pain if a tender area is scanned.

    If the radiologist is performing a Doppler ultrasound study, you may hear sounds similar to a pulse that change in pitch as blood flow is tracked and analyzed.

    When the test is done, the radiologist may ask you to dress and wait while the images produced during the ultrasound are analyzed.

    The procedure usually takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, with extra time added for more complex exams.

  • After The Test

    Once the radiologist has completed the test, the ultrasound gel will be wiped from your skin. Any residual gel should not stain or discolour your clothing. In addition, you should be able to immediately resume your normal activities.

  • Results

    A radiologist will review the results of your test, analyze them and send a report to the referring doctor, who will then share the results with you.

    In some circumstances, the radiologist may review the results with you. Your doctor will notify you if follow-up exams are required to see if your condition is stable, if there any changes in abnormalities, or if a treatment is working.

Vascular Ultrasound FAQs

Read the answers to our most frequently asked questions about vascular ultrasounds at Premier Imaging in Orléans, Ottawa.

  • Why would I need a vascular ultrasound?

    We perform vascular ultrasounds to look for clots, explore potential causes for serious medical conditions, and evaluate blood flow to the brain, to a newly transplanted organ, and/or throughout the body's blood vessels, veins and arteries.

    The results of this test can help us discover abnormalities and blockages, or find out whether previous surgeries or procedures were successful. 

    The 2 most common types of vascular ultrasound are:

    • Vein (venous) ultrasound of the arm or leg to check for deep venous thrombosis (which can cause soreness or cramping in the calf and swelling)
    • Carotid artery ultrasound to examine blood flow to the brain (which may be needed to check for your risk of stroke)
  • What are the benefits and risks of a vascular ultrasound?

    Because ultrasound is widely available and easy to use, it's less expensive than other imaging techniques. We can also capture a clear image of soft tissues that would not display well on X-Ray images.

    The vascular ultrasound test itself does not use any ionizing radiation and is extremely safe, painless and non-invasive. 

    Vascular ultrasound has no known risks or harmful side effects. 

  • What are some signs that I should see a specialist?

    You should book a checkup with your doctor and get a referral to a specialist if you have any symptoms that may indicate problems in your veins. An interruption of blood flow to muscles or tissues can cause vascular pain. Some common issues to be aware of include:

    • Your legs are discoloured, especially near the ankles
    • You have a burning or itching sensation in your legs
    • Varicose veins run in your family
    • Your legs feel tired and heavy
    • Warmth surrounding the affected area
  • After a vascular ultrasound, what's next?

    Unless your doctor advises you otherwise, you can return to your normal activities and diet after a vascular ultrasound. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor or other healthcare providers may follow up with specific instructions.

  • What are the limitations of vascular ultrasounds?

    Veins deep under the skin, especially small veins located in the calf, may be difficult to examine with a vascular ultrasound.

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