Where you might have a vascular ultrasound — and why

Posted on: 30 July 2020

A vascular ultrasound is a safe and non-invasive way of examining the blood vessels in the body by using sound waves. There are many parts of the body that it may be used on, depending on the purpose. 


This is a very common area for a vascular ultrasound. The sonographer may examine both your arms or may only be interested in one of them, in order to check the blood flow in the arteries and ensure there are no blockages. It may also be carried out to see if you are suitable for a fistula — a procedure in which an artery and vein are sutured together to allow easier access for dialysis.


The sonographer may also want to examine the arteries in your neck. This is to check if there is any build-up of plaque in the arteries, or if there are other blockages that might be impeding the blood flow.


There are several reasons why your sonographer may want to do a test on your abdomen. It may be to show how the blood is flowing through the aorta and the other arteries, in order to exclude the possibility of an aneurysm. It may also be needed to check the arteries that supply blood to your intestines. Finally, the sonographer may be interested in the blood flow to the kidneys.

In all these cases, you will probably need to abstain from food for a few hours before the examination. This is to reduce the amount of gas from the digestive process in the abdomen, which will otherwise disrupt the results.


Lastly, you may need a vascular ultrasound scan on your legs. It may be needed for vein mapping, in which the operator will determine the position of your veins before another procedure (and may draw on you to show the results). It may also be used to diagnose varicose veins or to check for deep vein thrombosis or blood clots. This may involve putting pressure on your muscles to encourage blood flow, but it should not bee too uncomfortable. It may also be used to examine a fistula in your leg if you have one (you may have a scan of your arm for the same reason).

Vascular ultrasound can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions in many different parts of your body. If you have any questions, just ask your doctor.