What Does a Leg Ultrasound Diagnose?

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
April 13, 2023

An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to show structures inside your body. These high-frequency sound waves create real-time pictures or videos of various organs, soft tissues, and blood vessels. It is a non-invasive process that helps healthcare providers diagnose all sorts of conditions. But, what specifically does a leg ultrasound diagnose? 

Let’s explore the different reasons why a leg ultrasound may be right for you.

What is a Leg Ultrasound?

A leg ultrasound is used to examine the blood flow through the major veins in your legs. This sort of procedure is particularly helpful because it can look inside your body without making any cuts or incisions. There are two main types of leg ultrasounds:

  • Standing Venous Reflux Ultrasound: This helps to study patients that have varicose veins or potential blood clots. Healthcare providers will search for abnormal valves, which create pools of blood in the legs. These conditions can be treated with prescription medications or a vein ablation procedure, which can be done in the doctor's office.  
  • Lower Extremity Arterial Duplex Ultrasound: This is used for individuals with Peripheral Artery Disease or potential Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This condition is caused by a lack of healthy blood flow throughout the legs and feet. This sort of ultrasound can determine if there is a narrowing or build-up of plaque in the legs.

If left untreated, these sorts of conditions can have serious consequences such as a pulmonary embolism. This procedure tends to take 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the results, further testing may be recommended.  

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?

This condition occurs when your arteries become narrow and reduce blood flow in your legs or arms. It is much more common in the legs. In addition, this occurs in concurrence with a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Peripheral Artery Disease can cause leg pain that can worsen without treatment. Most commonly, this pain occurs when walking.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot within a deep vein in the body. This is most common in the legs. In many cases, this condition can cause leg swelling or pain. However, there are sometimes no symptoms at all. Various medical conditions, family history, and a sedentary lifestyle can cause these clots. 

How Does An Arterial Ultrasound Work?

During an arterial ultrasound, patients can expect the following:

  • A healthcare provider will first apply a layer of gel onto your leg, where the procedure will be done. 
  • They will then use a device called a transducer (or a probe) over the leg. The ultrasound sound waves will then be transmitted from the transducer and the gel straight into the leg.  
  • From there, images and videos are sent to a computer in the form of an image or video. 
  • Your doctor can use these images to diagnose your condition in a non-invasive manner. 

What To Expect During Your Arterial Ultrasound 

  • No dietary or medication restrictions are necessary beforehand.
  • You will lay on an exam table with your hands on your stomach or at your sides.
  • You will be asked to lay still.
  • Warm gel will be applied to your legs.
  • A transducer (or probe) will be moved over your skin.
  • Images of your blood vessels will appear on a video monitor near you.
  • The doctor will read your exam, and all should be completed in 30 to 45 minutes.
  • A radiologist will send your results to your primary doctor within a few days.
  • A follow-up will be made if deemed necessary.

Let South Valley Vascular Help

If you have Peripheral Artery Disease, Deep Vein Thrombosis, or believe that you may need an ultrasound of any kind, contact South Valley Vascular today. There is a team of specialists ready to serve. Contact us if you live near:

Visalia: (559) 625-4118

Hanford: (559) 825-6204

Porterville: (559) 788-1022

Fresno: (559) 746-9605

Or, feel free to request a consultation online.