If you have coronary artery disease, you may also be at risk for problems with arteries in other parts of your body. Narrowing, blockage, or blood clots can happen in the arteries leading to your brain (causing stroke), your kidneys, and your arms and legs.

To diagnose or evaluate these and related problems, your healthcare provider may send you to a peripheral vascular lab, where technicians perform ultrasound studies of arteries and veins throughout your body. This safe and painless test uses sound waves to search for plaque or narrowing in the arteries and estimate the amount of blockage. Four general types of vascular studies can be performed:

  • Peripheral. Searches for blockage or narrowing in the arteries in your arms and legs.
  • Carotid. Assesses blockage or narrowing of the carotid arteries of the neck.
  • Abdominal. Assesses blood flow in the aorta (a main artery extending down from the heart), and in the arteries that lead to the kidneys, the intestines, and the liver.
  • TCD (Trans-cranial Doppler) ultrasound. Examines the blood flow within the brain.
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