Display Patient Information Leafelts

Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the legs

Date issued: November 2019

For review: November 2021

Ref: B-432/AE/Vascular/Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the legs

PDF:  Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the legs [pdf] 158KB


Why scan the arteries in the legs?

As with other arteries in the body, the arteries in the legs can become ‘furred’ up. This can cause a cramp like pain when you walk (claudication), or in more severe cases ulcers and gangrene. An ultrasound scan identifies whether the arteries are becoming narrowed or blocked and this helps your Doctor decide on the best form of treatment for you.

What is an Ultrasound scan or Doppler Scan?

Ultrasound scans use very high frequency sound waves to build up pictures of inside the body. It is most commonly known as the type of scan used to look at unborn babies. It does not use any form of radiation and is considered completely safe.

Doppler is a form of ultrasound scan in which blood flow is detected; during a Doppler ultrasound scan you will frequently hear your pulse.

How do I prepare for the test?

There is no specific preparation for this test. You may however wish to consider the clothes that you will be comfortable in when having the scan done. The scan will start at the tummy level and extend to ankle level. It will therefore be necessary to remove trousers, skirts and tights.

What does the test involve?

A Vascular Scientist will perform and report the scan. You will be asked to lie down on a couch. Some ultrasound gel will be placed on your tummy and on your legs before the area is scanned. Occasionally we will need to press quite hard to get a good picture, this may be mildly uncomfortable. At intervals you will hear your pulse.

The scan usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. There are no side effects and you can leave the department as soon as the scan is complete. There is no need to be accompanied to this scan but someone can come with you if you wish.

What happens next?

The Vascular Scientist will write a report on the scan results and send it to the doctor who requested the scan. The Vascular Scientist can comment on the scan findings with you but you will be able to discuss the results more fully with your Doctor at your next outpatient appointment.

Any further questions?

Please phone the Vascular Assessment Unit on 01752 439228 if you have any questions that you want answered before attending for the scan or if there is anything that you think we should know about before your scan. The Vascular Scientist who does your scan will also be happy to answer any further questions that you have.

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