Getting a Venous Doppler simply means that your physician is interested in evaluating the venous blood flow in your leg or arm. A vein is a blood vessel that carries de-oxygenated blood from an organ or limb back to the heart. Veins are play an essential role in the complete cycle of blood flow that occurs with the heart.
An Ultrasound to evaluate veins can be performed on arms or legs. Veins can be evaluated with ultrasound within the chest, abdomen and neck but typically when you hear of a “Venous Doppler” it refers to evaluation of the arms or legs.
Some of the symptoms that might warrant a Venous Doppler Ultrasound include: Swelling, leg or arm pain, hard palpable veins, redness, tight oozing skin, varicose veins, recent surgery or trauma just to name a few.
Ultrasound evaluates not only the internal anatomy of the vein but also the blood flow within the vein. Listening to the sound of the vein in various segments throughout the arm or leg is crucial in determining whether that vein is normal or abnormal.
Veins are very compressible or “collapsible”. Throughout the Ultrasound procedure, the sonographer will be gently pushing against the limb to compress the vein in that segment. If the vein compresses, this confirms that the vein is open and patent. If the vein does not compress and debris is seen within the vein, this confirms the presence of a blood clot or obstruction of the vein accounting for the patient’s symptoms.
For a Leg Venous Doppler, the sonographer will evaluate from the groin down to the lower calf of the symptomatic leg. One picture will also be documented of the opposite (non-symptomatic) leg for comparison of blood flow.
For an Arm Venous Doppler, the sonographer will evaluate from the side of the neck to the armpit and down the upper arm. This evaluation may also include the forearm if symptomatic. One picture will also be documented on the opposite (non-symptomatic) arm at the level of the neck for comparison of blood flow.
Venous Ultrasound Prep
Venous Ultrasound Prep
This type of Diagnostic ultrasound requires a physician or provider order prior to performing exam.
Depending on whether you are having a Venous Doppler Ultrasound of your arms or your legs will determine what prep you have. As far as the exam itself, there is no “prep” necessary in order for the test to be performed. The only thing that will be required is to undress the symptomatic area.
For Legs: You will be asked to undress, removing your pants to allow for access to the leg. If you prefer to wear loose fitting shorts that can be pulled up to access the groin, that is a reasonable option. However, if you have pants on, you will be asked to remove your pants, put on a gown and/or cover with a sheet.
You will be asked to lie flat on your back on the exam table covered by a sheet. A towel will be used to tuck your undergarment margin to allow the groin to be assessed. Warm ultrasound gel will be placed along the thigh and groin. The sonographer’s hand held probe will gently maneuver at the groin and down the leg. There will be times throughout the ultrasound where they may be no noise and then suddenly noise. The noise comes from the Doppler signal which is how the vein blood flow is heard and assessed.
For Arms: If your arms are the symptomatic body part, you will be asked to remove your shirt and bra for females. A gown will be provided for you to wear during the ultrasound.
Unfortunately ultrasound of the arms cannot be performed with upper clothing on and it is best for the patient to change into a gown to avoid gel getting on their clothing.
You will be asked to lie flat on your back on the exam table covered by a towel or sheet. Warm ultrasound gel is placed on the side of your neck and upper shoulder area. The sonographer’s hand held probe will evaluate the veins in those regions and then you will get wiped off. Your arm will then need to maneuver above your head (if possible) to access the armpit. Please note: it is ok to have deodorant on as it does not affect the ultrasound at all. Gel will be placed in the armpit for a few images and then wiped off. The arm will then be lowered back to normal position and gel is then reapplied to the upper arm and possibly forearm.
Any symptomatic areas that you wish to point out to the sonographer are helpful as often the source of pain can be outside of the vein anatomy being evaluated.
Ultrasound images, silent anatomy images and noisy Doppler images will be obtained throughout the evaluation, whether it is arms or legs.
All of the images from your ultrasound will then be sent to a Radiologist (interpreting physician) for a report to be generated for your referring physician. You will receive the results of your Ultrasound from your referring physician or the provider who ordered this ultrasound to be performed. Please refer back to the physician's office who sent you to obtain results of your ultrasound exams.