Doppler ultrasound exam of an arm or leg

Definition

This test uses ultrasound to look at the blood flow in the large arteries and veins in the arms and legs.

How the Test is Performed

The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department or in a peripheral vascular lab.

During the exam:

How to Prepare for the Test

You will need to remove clothes from the arm or leg being examined.

How the Test will Feel

Sometimes, the person performing the test will need to press on the vein to make sure it does not have a clot. Some people may feel slight pain.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done as the first step to look at arteries and veins. Sometimes, arteriography and venography may be needed later. The test is done to help diagnose:

The test may also be used to:

Normal Results

A normal result means the blood vessels show no signs of narrowing, clots, or closure, and the arteries have normal blood flow.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

This test may also be done to help assess the following conditions:

Risks

There are no risks from this procedure.

Considerations

Cigarette smoking may alter the results of this test. Nicotine can cause the arteries in the extremities to constrict.

Quitting smoking lowers the risk for problems with the heart and circulatory system. Most smoking-related deaths are caused by cardiovascular problems, not lung cancer.


Review Date: 12/31/2017
Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.