In the medical world, doctors have access to a broad range of imaging modalities. One of those modalities is ultrasound. While you may usually associate ultrasounds with looking at the health of babies, they're also useful for investigating how your veins are working. If this is an imaging modality you're not familiar with, here are some facts about vascular ultrasound you may not know.
If you're not a fan of needles and anaesthesia, here's some great news: they're not needed when you need this type of imaging. Even better still, your sonographer won't need to use ionising radiation. This makes them safe for use during pregnancy. You also don't need to drink a contrast dye. As contrast dyes force your kidneys to work harder than usual, they do have a small link with kidney damage. You may take some comfort in knowing that your ultrasound is likely the safest form of medical imaging you can try.
They Focus on Sound Waves
The device your sonographer uses will send sound waves to the soft tissues they're trying to assess. Those sound waves then return to the device and generate the image you'll see on the screen. Generally, your sonographer is looking at the rate at which the sound waves return. When your blood vessels are healthy, the sound waves return at a particular rate and demonstrate healthy blood flow. If your blood is moving too slow or too fast, your medical team will see this on the image and can use that information to start forming a diagnosis.
They Detect Dangerous Conditions
While the idea of sound waves may sound simple, they can inform your doctor of some serious conditions. For example, if you're generating a clot somewhere, they can then move quickly to break it down and improve your health profile. Your veins also feature a series of valves, and when those valves are in a good condition, they allow blood to flow at an acceptable rate. With a vascular ultrasound, your doctor can identify valves that open too easily or potentially don't open enough. Once they have the information they need, they can refer you to a cardiologist who can rectify the situation.
Finally, vascular ultrasounds are excellent for monitoring a range of conditions. Because they're usually not uncomfortable, it's a type of imaging you can attend regularly without worrying in advance about what it entails. The results are generally instant, so you can receive routine updates on how your condition is progressing too.