Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are Frequently Asked Questions about vascular diagnostic ultrasound exams. If you have other questions about your vascular ultrasound exam, please call 425-486-8868 or 800-282-6516 and someone at Pacific Vascular will be happy answer your questions.
Your doctor has determined that one of our non-invasive vascular evaluations would be beneficial to provide information about your blood vessels and about the way blood is passing through them. Your doctor’s referral is based upon your symptoms and physical exam.
Ultrasound is like ordinary sound except it has a frequency higher than humans can hear. It is emitted from a probe resting on the patient’s skin and is reflected off internal structures, like blood vessels, back to the probe. The returning signals are then converted by the ultrasound system into an image of the blood vessels and/or representation of blood flow which are viewed on a video screen. These continually changing images are digitally recorded for later review by an associate physician.
The technologist will obtain a brief medical history and perform an appropriate physical exam which will usually include checking pulses, listening with a stethoscope and taking blood pressures. The technologist will have you lie on an examination table and position you to allow for optimal access and visualization of the blood vessels of interest. An ultrasound probe (also called a transducer), along with gel, will be applied over the skin and manipulated to obtain images of the blood vessels and to assess blood flow. If you are undergoing evaluation for the lower extremity arteries (LEA), you may be asked to walk on a treadmill so that changes related to exercise can be evaluated. If you are having a cerebrovascular evaluation, the technologist will use ultrasound to look at arteries in your neck and head to evaluate the blood flow to your brain.
If you are having a peripheral arterial or venous evaluation, ultrasound will be used to evaluate blood flow in your legs and/or arms. If you have been referred for one or more of the abdominal vascular evaluations, ultrasound will be used to evaluate blood flow to your abdominal organs.
A professionally trained and certified Registered Vascular Technologist will perform your examination. Pacific Vascular has trained technologists since 1974. Each technologist is tested and certified through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).
There is no pain involved in a non-invasive vascular evaluation, although you may experience discomfort if you have swelling or tenderness in the area to be examined. There are no known harmful effects associated with the use of ultrasound. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the use of diagnostic ultrasound and any adverse outcomes.
The average vascular evaluation takes approximately one hour. However, depending on the findings, the test may take a little longer.
No prior preparation is necessary for a cerebrovascular evaluation (head and neck) or a peripheral venous evaluation (arms or legs). If you are having a peripheral arterial (legs) or abdominal vascular evaluation, you should not have food or drink (except water and any medication) for eight hours prior to your appointment time. This is due to the inability of ultrasound to penetrate abdominal gas which is produced as you digest food. (Please note that diabetic patients are exempt from this and should eat and drink as usual). Our schedulers will inform you if, and for how long, you should fast when you call to make an appointment.
Please bring your referral form signed by your doctor, photo ID and your insurance card.