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.
The test may be used to:
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There are usually no problems from this test.
Nothing needs to be done before this 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.
You can get dressed and go home.
Usually between 15 to 45 minutes
In general, this test is not painful.
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 if you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
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.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 9/2/2021