A vascular ultrasound is a method that is being increasingly used in health care to help diagnose and treat a wide variety of different conditions. Ultrasound is not a new technique; in fact, it has been around for many decades, but new technology is allowing it to be used more efficiently and effectively than it has been used in the past.
What Is an Ultrasound
The chief benefit of an ultrasound is that it is non-invasive, meaning there are no needles or anaesthetic that need to be used and the patient is awake, conscious and aware of what is going on the entire time. An ultrasound essentially uses sound waves, which reflect off the part of the body being looked at and are then displayed on a computer screen as an image.
A vascular ultrasound is able to reflect blood cells, producing a clear image of blood flow in the arteries and veins of the body. This is a very precise method of being able to establish if there are any problems concerning the narrowing of arteries or veins, thereby flagging potential conditions that may occur as a result of this, such as blood clots. A vascular ultrasound sometimes contains a Doppler ultrasound study and will have a very specific clinical pathway as to how it is used, similar to any other diagnostic technique
One of the most common conditions that a vascular ultrasound could help with is what is commonly known as deep vein thrombosis, a condition often associated with long flights where there is little movement in the body for a significant period of time. A vascular ultrasound is a particularly unique way of collecting clinical information about blood flow within the body in a way that is not possible without the use of tracer dyes or radiation.
What Is Ultrasound Used For
When people think of an ultrasound, they normally associate it with the early stages of pregnancy, when scans are typically done around 12 weeks (though they can be done earlier). People often think of a slightly grainy image of a baby and are unaware of other ways that an ultrasound machine might be used.
Increasingly, technology allows an ultrasound device to be more precise as to how the sound waves are able to read tissue within the body and how that image can be displayed on a screen. This means that the information gathered by a clinician is more reliable, allowing them to make a more accurate diagnosis of a number of conditions and prescribe the proper treatment.
An ultrasound can be used on any part of the body, and aside from pregnancy, it is often used to look at thyroid tissue, abdominal tissue, breast tissue and liver function.
The ultrasound technology used during pregnancy is often a mix of a handheld device, some very cold cream and a computer monitor. This technology hasn't changed significantly from an external point of view, but internally, new technology and software are being developed which significantly improve how ultrasounds work.
The traditional ultrasound used in pregnancy is what is described as a 2-D process, where a vascular ultrasound is more likely to employ 3-D and possibly 4-D technology. This allows the image of a blood vessel to show the inside of an artery or vein, and it shows valuable information about the specific blood flow. The movement of blood can be tracked pretty much anywhere within the body, giving a unique insight into where there may be problems that can then be diagnosed and treated.