Arterial Duplex/Doppler and Pulse Volume Recording

What is an Arterial Doppler, Arterial Duplex or Pulse Volume Recording?

Doppler ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create images and sounds of blood flow. This test can detect narrow or blocked arteries. This test can be done on the legs or the arms. A hand held probe placed against the skin emits sound waves. The sound bounces off the moving blood and echo back to the probe. The echo is translated into an image that appears on a screen. The pulse volume recording involves evaluating the arteries of the limbs with ultrasound as well as taking segmental blood volumes and pressures of the extremities.

Before Your Arterial Evaluation

No special preparations are necessary. You may eat and go about your normal activities.

What to Expect During the Test

You may be asked to undress from the waist down and put on a hospital gown if the legs are to be imaged. If the arms are to be examined you will be required to remove upper garments and put on a hospital gown. You will have to lie on a hospital bed or exam table. To improve the quality of the pictures, a colorless gel is applied to the area being examined. This may feel cool and moist, but the gel will be wiped off at the end of the exam. The sonographer will then press a hand held transducer against your leg or arm. For the pulse volume recording, the technologist will place different size blood pressure cuffs that will take pressures at different levels of the limb. Each cuff will become tight as the technologist takes the blood pressure of each segment of the limb. If the test is painful, let the sonographer know.

The Doppler Exam

The arterial duplex exam has two parts which are done simultaneously. One part, the 2-D echo, produces images of the arteries in the extremity. The second part of the test is known as the Doppler component. This produces sounds that you will hear and helps the physician evaluate the blood flow through the arteries.

What are the Benefits?

A major benefit of the arterial exam is that it gives valuable information about arterial blood flow in the extremities.

Is the Procedure Painful or Dangerous?

This procedure is a safe, non-invasive exam. No x-rays or dyes are used.

There are no known risks from exposure to the ultrasound waves.

How Long Does the Test Take and Who Performs the Exam?

The complete exam requires approximately 45 minutes to one hour to perform.

The procedure is performed by specially-trained sonographers. The study is then reviewed by a vascular physician and a written evaluation is forwarded to your own doctor. The sonographer can answer questions about the test. However, only a doctor can explain the test results to you.

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