Date issued: November 2019
For review: November 2021
Ref: B-435/AE/Vascular/Ultrasound scan of the veins in the legs
Why scan the veins in the legs?
The veins in the legs return the blood from the legs to the heart. There are two systems of veins in both legs, the superficial veins and the deep veins. Both have valves in them that should allow the blood only to go back towards the heart. Unfortunately these valves can stop working properly, causing varicose veins, swelling and discomfort. Occasionally the veins can become blocked (thrombosis).
An ultrasound scan identifies which veins are not working properly 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 groin level of the leg to be examined and extend to ankle level. Occasionally it may be necessary to scan the veins in the tummy as well. It will therefore be necessary to remove trousers or tights, although a loose skirt can just be pulled up out of the way.
What does the test involve?
A Vascular Scientist will perform and report the scan. You will be asked to lie down on a couch. Usually the couch will then be tilted so you are in a semi standing position. Occasionally the scan will be done with you standing. Some ultrasound gel will be placed on your leg.
The Vascular Scientist will need to press quite hard on the leg at intervals and will also need to squeeze the leg, this helps to see the blood flow in the veins. The scan usually takes between 15 and 30 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 on 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