Overview of Peripheral Vascular Studies
Peripheral vascular studies use ultrasound to check for forms of vascular disease including carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, blood clots (deep vein thrombosis, and venous insufficiency. Peripheral Vascular Studies are generally quick and painless. Generally, you don't need to prepare beforehand, and they usually take less than an hour. Intermountain Heart Institute offers the following Vascular Studies:
- Venous studies (rule out DVT): An ultrasound of the veins of the arm(s) and/or leg(s) is taken to rule out a blood clot. Patients typically present with pain and swelling.
- Venous mapping: Ultrasounds are performed on the veins of the arm(s) and or leg(s) to measure the vein size prior to a bypass surgery
- Venous competency exam ("comp check"): These studies are performed to evaluate the competency of vein valves in the lower extremities. Patients most typically have varicose veins or chronic swelling of the legs. These studies require an ultrasound as well as compression using blood pressure cuffs.
- Duplex studies: These exams are used to visualize plaque in the common, internal, and external carotid arteries. These studies are typically performed on both sides of the neck. Indications for a carotid study are dizziness, syncope, weakness, TIA, and stoke.
- Renal artery duplex: These studies are performed to rule out renal artery stenosis. The aorta, iliac, and mesenteric arteries as well as the kidneys are visualized. Patients typically present with hypertension.
- Aorta/iliac duplex: These studies include measurements throughout the aorta to rule out an aortic aneurysm.
- Pseudoaneurysm: These studies are performed following a catheterization. A pseudoaneurysm is a hole in the arterial wall that permits blood to escape under pressure, generating a false aneurysm.
- Arterial duplex: These studies are of the arteries in the upper and/or lower extremities. Measurements and velocities are obtained to look for a blood clot, narrowing, or aneurysm. These exams also include bypass grafts. Patients usually present with numbness, coolness, and pain.
- Transcranial Doppler: These exams are performed on the arteries inside the head. Saline may be used to detect a hole in the heart (PFO). These studies are performed above the ear, behind the neck, and over the eye. Limited exams may also be performed.
Ankle-brachial Index (ABI) Test:
- ABI test: This test compares the blood pressure in your ankle and in your arm. A technician will place blood pressure cuffs on your arms and ankles and inflate the cuffs. As the cuffs deflate, a technician will hold an ultrasound transducer against each ankle and arm. The device uses high-frequency sound waves to measure the blood pressure in each area.
- ABI test with stress (exercise): Depending on your situation, you might exercise on a treadmill. You will then have another ABI test.
An ABI test compares the blood pressure in your ankles and arms. The ankle blood pressures will be divided by the highest arm pressure to create an ABI ratio. A ratio lower than normal means you may have peripheral artery disease.
Learn what happens (and what you need to do) before, during and after the most common peripheral vascular studies:
How to Schedule, and Where to Go
Peripheral vascular studies are performed in several places at the Heart Institute:
- Hospital-based vascular lab (building #4): Peripheral vascular studies are performed in an exam room in our hospital-based clinic and lab. Come to Intermountain Medical Center – building 4 (Heart & Lung Center). Follow the signs to Patient Registration on the first floor. After registering go down one floor to the patient waiting area and check in for your study. All tests need to be scheduled in advance by calling our main number: 801-507-4701
- Cardiology office (building #2): Some vascular studies are done in our cardiology office and may be part of your doctor's appointment. The cardiology office is located in building #2, suite 520.
If you have questions please call us: 801-507-4701
Learn More About Our Vascular Disease Program