Approximately 30 million people in the US suffer from some form of vein disease, and less than 1.5% of people actually receive treatment. This makes a diagnosis via a vein ultrasound a crucial step in getting the treatment you need.
Like other physical ailments, the veins in our bodies can suffer damage that can lead to severe complications. The key to finding the right treatment for such diseases lies in diagnostics.
A Vein ultrasound is a screening method vascular surgeons and vein experts use to get a clear view of patients’ circulatory system. The images it creates helps pinpoint blockages in the veins, malfunctioning valves, and potentially life-threatening blood clots.
What is a Vein Ultrasound?
Like conventional ultrasound imaging, vein ultrasound is a safe and painless procedure that uses sound waves to create images. It is a standard diagnostic procedure used all around the world to view internal organs like veins.
In vein ultrasounds, doctors use a transducer or probe to transmit high-frequency sound waves. To help the sound waves pass through a special ultrasound gel is placed on the area that requires imaging.
Vein ultrasounds capture in real-time. This means that they show the current movement or circulation of blood in the veins. This procedure is also called vein mapping.
The procedure is completely non-invasive and painless. Furthermore, it doesn’t use ionizing radiations like x-rays, making the imaging process entirely safe for the patient.
How is the Vein Ultrasound Performed?
Vein ultrasounds will require you to be face up for the ultrasound. Depending on the affected area the doctor wants to see, they might ask you to turn or lie in a particular way.
A water-based ultrasound gel will be applied to the part of your body being studied. This gel eliminates air pockets between the probe and skin, allowing secure contact.
The sonographer, radiologist or the doctor will then glide the probe across your body. They will move the examination around in different directions and place them in different angles to get the optimal view of the affected area.
Most vein ultrasounds can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to complete. However, if your vein disorder is involved or the affected area is hard to image, it can take longer.
How do you Prepare for a Vein Ultrasound?
There are no special preparation requirements when it comes to vein ultrasounds in your legs. Your doctor will ask you to wear loose clothing on the day of the exam.
This might not even be necessary as most hospitals or clinics ask you to change into a gown. You will, however, be asked to remove any jewelry if it obstructs the area that needs to be scanned.
What is Vein Ultrasound used for?
Considering that vein ultrasounds are used for diagnostics and monitoring purposes, they are used to detect vein disorders. Most commonly, they are used to identify blood clots that may develop in the leg veins.
This condition is called deep vein thrombosis or DVT. This condition is severe as it can lead to a potentially fatal disease called pulmonary embolism.
Using vein ultrasounds, doctors can see if the DVT has broken off and entered the bloodstream or not. This can make a significant difference as timely treatment is possible.
Vein ultrasounds are also used for the following reasons:
- A common vein condition called varicose veins occurs when one-way valves don’t work correctly. This disturbs the blood flow and keeps it from flowing back to the heart. A vein ultrasound can help identify these valves along with any abnormal blood flow.
- Similarly, vein ultrasounds can also help identify if pooled blood in varicose veins has breached and entered the surrounding tissue.
- To see and evaluate any presence of blood clots, narrowing of veins, tumors or vascular malformations, infection, and abnormal blood flow
- During vein treatments that require placing a catheter into the vein. Surgeons or vein doctors use vein ultrasound to locate the exact vein and guide the placement.
- During procedures that require a vein from the leg to be removed and used to bypass another vein. A typical example is a surgical bypass of a narrowed coronary artery.
- It is examining blood vessel grafts to see if they are viable for dialysis if it isn’t working correctly. For example, the graft might be blocked, preventing it from working during dialysis.
Benefits of Using a Vein Ultrasound
Vein ultrasound is a crucial tool for vascular specialists. Without these, many vein disorders would either be misdiagnosed or go completely undiagnosed.
Consequently, vein ultrasounds have many benefits.
- Vein ultrasounds are safe as they don’t use ionizing radiation
- They are completely painless but can a bit uncomfortable while imaging deep veins
- The technology is spread across the world, is easy to use and less expensive than other diagnostic methods
- Vein ultrasounds are optimal for scanning soft tissues that may not show up very clearly on an x-ray
- Real-time imaging can be beneficial in detecting clots before they dislodge. IF they do, ultrasound can also show blood circulation
- Compared to venography, which involves injecting a contrast material, vein ultrasounds are far less invasive
Risks Associated with Vein Ultrasounds
Besides the fact that they can be a little uncomfortable in certain areas, there are no risks or side effects associated with vein ultrasounds. They are entirely safe, don’t expose patients to harmful radiations, and are highly effective.
Limitation of Vein Ultrasound
Vein ultrasounds are useful for viewing and examining larger vein close to the skin’s surface. However, veins deep beneath the skin, especially small veins in the calf, can be hard to see with vein ultrasounds.
Dr. Ryan Jones makes it a priority to offer his patients the most useful diagnostic procedures. It is crucial for making the correct diagnosis and creating a treatment plan.
If you already suffer from varicose veins or some other vein disorder, a vein ultrasound can help make a timely diagnosis. This will increase the chances of you reversing your vein disorder.