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by Scholten A
(Venous Duplex Study; B-mode Imaging)

Definition

An ultrasound uses sound waves to make images of the inside of the body. A venous duplex ultrasound looks at the flow of blood through veins in the arms or legs.

Reasons for Test

The test may be used to:

  • Look for the cause of arm or leg symptoms, such as:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Increased warmth
    • Bulging veins
  • To diagnose:
Deep Vein Thrombosis
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Possible Complications

There are usually no problems from this test.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Nothing needs to be done before this test.

Description of Test

You will be asked to lie on a table. Gel will be placed on the skin of the arm or leg. It will cover the veins being tested.

The ultrasound machine has a hand-held device. The device will be pushed against the skin where the gel was applied. The device sends sound waves into the body. The waves bounce off structures in the body and echo back to the device. The echoes are made into images that are shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. The doctor may take pictures of them as well.

The technologist may push the device firmly or softly against the skin. This is done to see the vein better.

After Test

You can get dressed and go home.

How Long Will It Take?

Usually between 15 to 45 minutes

Will It Hurt?

In general, this test is not painful.

Results

The test results will be sent to a doctor who looks at images. Your doctor will receive the results and discuss them with you.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Symptoms that do not go away or get worse
  • Any new symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians  https://familydoctor.org 

Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America  https://www.radiologyinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society  http://www.ccs.ca 

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt. Accessed September 2, 2021.

Garcia R, Labropoulos N. Duplex ultrasound for the diagnosis of acute and chronic venous diseases. Surg Clin North Am. 2018;98(2):201-218.

Ultrasound—venous (extremities). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/venousus. Accessed September 2, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 09/02/2021