Cardiac and Vascular Ultrasound

An echocardiogram, often referred to in the medical community as a cardiac ECHO or simply an ECHO, is a sonogram of the heart.  Also known as a cardiac ultrasound, it uses standard ultrasound techniques to image two-dimensional slices of the heart.  The latest ultrasound systems now employ 3D real-time imaging.  Ultrasound utilizes sound waves to obtain images of different parts of the body.  Doctors refer to ultrasound of the heart as echocardiography.  When doctors use ultrasound to image the veins and arteries, the term vascular ultrasound applies.

Carotid ultrasound image tests

Cardiac Ultrasound

The technology used in ultrasound is similar to that used in a depth finder, commonly seen on fishing boats. ‘Understanding how sonar works will be of help. Electrical impulses from the unit are sent to the transducer where they are converted into sound waves. These sound waves are sent into the water in a controlled beam from the transducer. Objects within this beam reflect the sonar back to the transducer. The transducer accurately measures the distance to these objects based on the time it takes for the sonar to return. Each object (bottom, fish or structure) reflects the sonar uniquely, providing information about its makeup. This information is then converted back into electrical impulses by the transducer and sent to the unit for display on the screen’ -(http://www.bassresource.com/fishing/depthfinder_fishfinder.html)

Vascular Ultrasound

Vascular ultrasound refers to the evaluation of blood vessels using ultrasound waves. The vessels most commonly imaged are in the neck, legs, and arms. Your ordering physician will determine based on your symptoms which vessels specifically, arteries or veins, need to be imaged. Vascular ultrasound tests performed in our office are carotid, arterial, or venous study.

Carotid Doppler

A Carotid Doppler is the ultrasound of the arteries that lead from your heart to your brain. The arteries are located on the right and left side of your neck. The test is non-invasive and may take up to 30mins, though it’s usually shorter.

It’s primarily ordered to assess plaque (fatty deposits), calcium, and degree of obstruction or impedance on blood flow. Among the many indications for ordering a carotid ultrasound is dizziness, syncope, history of stroke/TIA, or a bruit (abnormal sound heard from the neck using a stethoscope). It may also be ordered to follow up post a carotid endarterectomy , or assessing for presence or absence of aneurysm or lesions, as well as the progression of known carotid artery disease.

We recommend wearing an open-neck shirt, otherwise no preparation is required for a carotid ultrasound.

Expect to lie flat on your back for 15-30mins

After the completion of the carotid ultrasound, it will go to a designated physician for interpretation. This is where the final result is generated. A member of our staff will contact you to inform you of your results. No risks have been demonstrated with ultrasound.

Arterial Doppler

An Arterial Doppler is an ultrasound study that focuses on arteries. An arterial Doppler may be ordered for upper and/or lower extremities. It provides detail about the structure of the vessel wall and utilizes color to assess blood flow within the vessel, often to rule out the presence or absence of an obstruction in the specified vessel.

An Arterial Doppler may be ordered as a result of recent pain triggered by exercise, or leg pain occurring at rest. It may also be ordered because of decreased palpable pulses or to check the status on a bypass graft. There are other indications for having an arterial Doppler which your ordering physician can discuss with you in further detail.

Some of the findings available through ultrasound are arthersclerosis, arteriovenous fistulas, pseudoaneurysm, and dissections.

An Arterial Doppler is more commonly ordered on lower extremities (legs). It is a non-invasive test that usually takes approximately 45mins to complete. In order to image your legs, socks and pants will need to be removed so please plan and dress accordingly.

A measurement called Ankle-brachial index is obtained as part of an Arterial study. For this portion of the test blood-pressure cuffs will be used to record systolic pressures from both your ankles and both your arms. The sonographer will then begin the ultrasound portion of the test by applying the transducer with gel to your inguinal ligament, near the groin area, and follow the artery down to the ankle.

After the completion of the Arterial Doppler ultrasound, it will go to a designated physician for interpretation. This is where the final result is generated. A member of our staff will contact you to inform you of your results. To date, no risks have been demonstrated with ultrasound.

Venous Doppler

A Venous Doppler is an ultrasound that focuses on veins. A venous Doppler may be ordered for upper and/or lower extremities. It provides detail about the structure of the vessel wall and assesses blood flow within the vessel.

Ruling out the presence or absence of a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), also called blood clot, in the specified vessel is one of the most common indications for a venous Doppler. A DVT may manifest itself by sudden pain, discoloration, or a change in temperature of the skin. It may due to trauma to a limb or caused the condition called Atrial Fibrillation. A venous Doppler may also be ordered for evaluation of venous insuffiency or long standing swelling.

A venous Doppler is a non-invasive test that usually takes approximately 45mins to complete. In order to image your legs, socks and pants will need to be removed so please plan and dress accordingly.

The sonographer will begin the ultrasound portion of the test by applying the transducer with gel to your inguinal ligament, near the groin area, and follow the vein down to the ankle. With the transducer, the sonographer will press down on specific areas along your leg. Also expect the sonographer to lightly squeeze your calf, and or your foot, at various times throughout the test. This is a normal step necessary for the completion of a venous ultrasound study.

After the completion of the Venous Doppler ultrasound, it will go to a designated physician for interpretation. This is where the final result is generated. A member of our staff will contact you to inform you of your results. To date, no risks have been demonstrated with ultrasound.