Doppler of major vessels

Ultrasound of blood vessels is a special type of ultrasound that, through the use of a specially designed probe, allows visualization of blood flow within arteries and veins. Since Doppler ultrasound relies on the Doppler effect, it forms the basis for analyzing blood flow in vessels, hence vascular ultrasound is also known as Doppler ultrasound.

The term "vascular ultrasound" is a general one, encompassing all types of ultrasound examinations related to both arteries and veins from various vascular segments. Therefore, when this procedure is prescribed, it is essential to know precisely at what level it needs to be performed, depending on the symptoms and indications provided by the physician recommending the examination.

Indications

Vascular ultrasound may be indicated for many conditions, the most common of which include:

  • Suspicion of venous thrombosis (the presence of a blood clot in superficial or deep veins) or venous insufficiency (characterized by inadequate blood return, usually at the level of the lower extremities).
  • Cases where Doppler ultrasound is indicated at the level of upper or lower limb veins, depending on the symptoms and their localization.
  • Presence of symptoms suggesting peripheral arterial involvement (e.g., pain in the calves occurring during walking), which may be caused by arterial blockages (occlusions) supplying the lower limbs - cases where Doppler ultrasound related to peripheral arterial visualization is indicated.
  • Symptoms suggesting involvement of the arteries supplying the brain - carotid arteries (e.g., transient loss of vision, severe dizziness, stroke, or transient ischemic attack).
  • Examination of the abdominal aorta to definitively establish the presence of an aneurysm (marked expansion) at this level (more common in elderly patients or smokers, with a hereditary predisposition to abdominal aortic aneurysm).
  • If there is a high cardiovascular risk (smoking patient, hypertensive, diabetic) or vascular damage manifested in another vascular area (e.g., coronary), or if a myocardial infarction has already occurred, vascular ultrasound may be indicated to detect the presence of an atherosclerotic plaque in another arterial area that can be non-invasively investigated (e.g., carotid, abdominal aorta, arteries supplying the lower limbs).

Test Procedure

Regardless of the vascular area being examined, the physician conducting this procedure (specifically trained to perform this examination) will use an ultrasound probe placed at the level of the examined segment to visualize the vessels and blood flow within them. During the examination, the physician may request maneuvers to help establish an ultrasound diagnosis (most commonly a respiratory maneuver).

The duration of this procedure depends greatly on the vascular area being examined and the complexity of each patient's pathology. It is crucial that the physician performing this type of examination is well aware of the patient's symptoms and the goals for which this examination is recommended.

Risks

Vascular ultrasound is a non-invasive, non-radiating method of investigation that poses no risk to the patient when performed correctly. If performed properly, it may present a real alternative to other invasive and radiation-exposing investigation methods (e.g., arteriography or venography using iodinated contrast injected into the vessels for visualization) or non-invasive but radiation-exposing and/or more expensive methods - angiography using computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging.

Preparation

Vascular ultrasound does not require special preparation as in cases where vascular examination of the abdominal cavity (abdominal aorta, renal arteries, iliac vessels) is indicated.

Before this type of examination, the physician will prescribe a special diet and possibly special medications in the days preceding the ultrasound. It will also be necessary not to eat for at least 6 hours before the examination. Adhering to these prescriptions is crucial for optimal visualization of intra-abdominal blood vessels, which are usually more difficult to examine than peripheral vessels.

Results

After performing vascular ultrasound at the Department of the Institute of Cardiology in Chișinău, you will receive a written report, which, depending on the vascular area being examined, will include descriptions of encountered pathological changes; parameters related to blood flow (flow velocity, resistance indices); and conclusions formulated by the examining physician.

The physician who recommended this examination will interpret the data in a clinical context, establish the need for other additional investigations, and choose appropriate treatment.