What is vascular ultrasound/neurosonology?
A vascular ultrasound is a noninvasive test method (also called a duplex study) used to examine the circulation in the blood vessels of the body.
Vascular ultrasound can be used to evaluate arteries or veins in nearly any part of the body, including blood vessels in the neck (carotid ultrasound) or brain (transcranial ultrasound or TCD). Non- invasive means the procedure does not typically require the use of needles or anesthesia. Unlike other medical tests, ultrasound does not require radiation or contrast dye.
How does it work?
During a vascular ultrasound study, sound waves are transmitted and reflect off of the blood cells moving within the blood vessels and then return to the ultrasound machine. The sound waves are recorded and displayed on a computer screen to make an image of the blood vessel. The ultrasound machine can calculate blood flow in the vessel based on the speed of the reflecting sound waves. When the speed of blood flow in a blood vessel is too fast, this indicates a narrowing (blockage).
What is it used for?
Vascular ultrasound can be used for: evaluation of blood flow in the arteries and veins of the body to detect the presence, severity and specific location of disease. We can diagnose narrowing of arteries and determine the severity of narrowing to guide therapies. We can use TCD to help identify shunting (abnormal flow) in the heart by injecting IV fluids with microbubbles in the arm vein of a patient and monitoring their brain sound waves. Vascular ultrasound is also the most commonly used test to follow-up patients after they have undergone a vascular procedure such as a bypass graft or stent.