Vascular studies are diagnostic procedures that use sound waves to study the flow of blood in the arteries and veins. They usually test the vessels of the neck and extremities to identify various vascular conditions such as blockages and reduced blood flow in vessels due to atherosclerosis (fatty deposits on vessel walls), clot formation, varicose veins (weakened walls and valves), trauma and infection.
These studies are usually ordered when you have symptoms indicating reduced blood flow such as confusion, dizziness and headache (when the carotid artery in the neck is involved) or pain, weakness and numbness (when the leg vessels are affected). Vascular studies are also used to evaluate the effectiveness of vascular treatment.
A device called a transducer is placed over the vessel to be studied. It produces high-pitched sound waves which reflect off blood cells in the vessel. These reflected sound waves are picked up by the transducer and converted into images or video of the flowing blood and can assess the direction and rate of blood flow. In arterial studies of the leg, a cuff may be applied at different locations to compare blood pressures.
The home health service provides vascular studies for the elderly, bedbound, and those who wish to perform the test at home for various reasons.