Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound


Peripheral vascular ultrasound is a test used to look at the health of blood vessels. Ultrasound uses sound waves to make pictures of structures inside the body.

Reasons for Test

The test may be used to look for the cause of:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth or coolness in part of the body
  • Problems finding pulses
  • Bulging veins

It may also be used to diagnose the cause or severity of:

  • Poor blood flow due to blocked or narrowed blood vessels
  • Blood clots
  • Poor blood vessel function

Leg Veins

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The procedure is also used to check the results of blood vessel surgery.

Possible Complications

There are no major problems from this test.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Nothing needs to be done before this test.

Description of Test

Gel will be placed on the arm or leg over the area being tested.

There are two types of ultrasound:

One is a simple 1-dimensional beam. It detects movement by making a swishing sound. A hand-held device is pushed against the skin in the area being tested. Sound waves are sent into the body and bounce back to the machine. This is used to detect blood flow in blood vessels.

The other technique makes a 2-dimensional image. The sound waves are converted to images shown on a screen. The doctor examines the images on the screen. Photographs of them might be taken as well.

After the Test

You will be able to leave after the test is done.

How Long Will It Take?

30 to 60 minutes

Will It Hurt?



The results will let your doctor know if you need further testing or treatment.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have questions about the test results or your condition.

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


American Heart Association
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America


Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Mount Sinai Hospital


Duplex ultrasound. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Kim ES, Sharma AM, et al. Interpretation of peripheral arterial and venous doppler waveforms: A consensus statement from the Society for Vascular Medicine and Society for Vascular Ultrasound. Vasc Med. 2020;25(5):484-506.
Vascular ultrasound. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Vascular ultrasound. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Accessed September 9, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/9/2021

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