Diagnostic Testing

Venous Duplex

Imaging ultrasound is used to assess the deep and superficial veins for  venous thrombosis and/or reflux (backward flow in the veins).  The arms and legs have two venous systems, deep and superficial.  Sometimes clots develop in either or both systems due to hypercoagulation, injury, a sedentary lifestyle or prolonged illness, a long flight, work environment where people are sitting for many hours at one time, cardiac conditions causing a back up of blood to the venous system (mitral stenosis, congestive heart failure, pic lines, dialysis access lines in the subclavian and jugular veins, etc  Duplex ultrasound allows direct imaging and assessment of these veins, allowing the interpreting physicians to diagnose and instigate treatment of existing clots.  It is important if you think you have a clot to seek immediate help.  When a clot first begins it may come loose and travel to the heart, then the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism which may be life threatening.

Indications for this exam:  In the majority of cases only one leg is involved, causing obvious swelling of the extremity and sometimes pain.  If the condition has lasted more than two weeks, any associated clot is no longer acute, or likely to dislodge.  A medical visit should be arranged through your family physician, and a venous ultrasound performed at the earliest possible convenience.  If a clot exists, the area affected can expand, delaying the effects of treatment and returning health of the venous system and affected leg.

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