Vascular ultrasound is a non invasive testing modality that uses soundwaves to evaluate the vascular system. The lab at LA Vascular has the highest accreditation possible and is certified by ICAVL. Vascular ultrasound is usually a very important part of the diagnostic evaluation and also an important part of long term follow up for patients with venous and arterial disease. It is non-invasive, relying on sound waves and Doppler physicis to obtain information, and is done in our office.
For our vein patients, the ultrasound enables us to determine whether there are clots or obstructions in the venous system. It also enables us to assess the valves in the veins which often malfunction in patients with varicose veins or venous stasis disease. It is the first and often only diagnostic test that is required to plan treatments for our vein patients.
For our patients with peripheral arterial disease, the ultrasound can measure plaque buildup. In addition to the ultrasound this exam may also include pressure measurements in the extremity which help us to evaluate how significant overall the blockages are. A significant blockage which causes leg pain with walking which becomes disabling, constant pain, or non healing wounds will usually require an angiogram which is described in the angiogram section. After treatment, ultrasound is very important to make sure that the blockages do not recur which could compromise the procedure and is usually done periodically indefinitely.
For carotid disease, the ultrasound is the preferred initial test to determine whether significant disease is present. If the ultrasound shows significant disease where treatment may be required, a CT scan, described in the CT section, is usually done to precisely measure the degree of narrowing and plan treatment. Disease that is moderate that doesn’t require immediate treatment can be followed with ultrasound yearly. After treatment, ultrasound is done periodically to make sure it remains effective.
For patients with aortic aneurysms, ultrasound is also very important. Initially it is an excellent screening test to measure the aneurysm and to follow it if immediate treatment is not needed. Like carotid disease, if treatment is planned, a CT scan is usually necessary. Ultrasound is also used after aneurysm repair at 3 months, 6 months, and then yearly to follow the repair. This test will often be done in the morning with the patient fasting.
Lastly, ultrasound is very important for patients with end stage renal disease. Prior to creating an access for dialysis, ultrasound is used to check the arm circulation and identify the best veins for the access. If there are any problems with the access, ultrasound is an excellent way to determine the cause.