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Ultrasound Imaging - Venous (Extremities)

Last updated Jan. 26, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

James Heilman, MD

Image showing Ultrasound of L common femoral vein demonstrating a thrombosis.

Background Information:

What are the other Names for the Procedure?

  • Extremity Ultrasound Scan
  • Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan
  • Venous (Extremities) USG Procedure

What is Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure? (General Explanation)

  • Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images. The procedure can be used to show movement of internal organs and blood flowing through blood vessels
  • Ultrasound Imaging - Venous (Extremities) provides detailed images of veins, to diagnose various medical conditions
  • Doppler ultrasound is useful in assessing blood flow in arteries and veins in arms, legs, abdomen, and neck

What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?

The Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan may involve any part of the body, depending upon the veins involved.

Why is the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure Performed?

Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure is performed to diagnose various medical conditions, such as:

  • In evaluation of varicose veins, especially swelling in the lower extremities
  • To evaluate aneurysm of a vessel (enlargement)
  • To diagnose DVT (deep venous thrombosis)
  • To evaluate congenital arteriovenous malformations  and other venous malformations
  • In certain cases, to establish an IV line in the artery or vein

What is the Equipment used? (Description of Equipment)

The equipment for ultrasound imaging consists of:

  • An ultrasound transducer
  • A computer monitor
  • A central processing unit
  • A printer

A transducer is used to send high-frequency sound waves in the body and the computer creates the image based on the echoes of that sound returning from the patient’s body.

What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?

There have been no recent advances in the field of Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure.

What is the Cost of performing the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

The cost of an Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the surgery/procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.

When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?

  • It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused with a sudden inflow of information regarding the Venous (Extremities) Scan and what needs to be done
  • If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist in recommending another physician
  • Also, if the procedure involves multiple steps or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently

What are some Helpful Resources?

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=genus (accessed on 10/16/14)

Prior to Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

How does the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure work?

Venous Ultrasound Imaging Procedure works in the following manner:

  • The ultrasound procedure works on similar principles used in sonar by submarines, to determine the size and shape of the object and how far away the object is
  • The transducer sends out high-frequency sound waves in the body. When sound waves echo back from the body, the microphone in the transducer records the changes in the sound
  • And using the changes in the sound, it is possible to determine the shape, size, or any other changes in the structure of the organ
  • Using the change in the echoed sound, a computer produces a picture in real-time on the screen
  • Doppler ultrasound is used to determine the direction and speed of the blood cells 

How is the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure Performed?

The Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Imaging Procedure is performed in the following manner:

  • The patient lies face-up on the table
  • A water-based gel is applied on the area of interest so that transducer can have better contact with the area and air pockets are eliminated between the transducer and body
  • A sonographer puts the transducer on the body and moves it around the area of interest to capture the desired image

Where is the Procedure Performed?

A Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound is performed either as an outpatient or inpatient procedure, at a hospital.

Who Performs the Procedure?

An ultrasound technician performs the procedure under the supervision of a radiologist.

How long will the Procedure take?

A Venous (Extremities) USG Procedure will take about 30 minutes.

Who interprets the Result?

A radiologist interprets the results of the Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound scan.

What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?

The following preparations may be needed prior to Venous (Extremities) USG Procedure:

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient, including information related to the medications that are being currently taken
  • Do inform the medical professional if you have a history of any medical conditions, such as a heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Do inform the medical professional about any allergies, especially related to barium or iodinated contrast material, which may be used in the procedure
  • The ultrasound is not recommended, if the patient had had barium enema or GI tests in the past 2 days
  • It is advisable to wear comfortable and loose clothes. Avoid wearing any metal objects or jewelry, as it may interfere with the scan
  • It is highly recommended to inform your healthcare professional, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • For some specific tests related to the aorta, gallbladder, spleen, liver, or pancreas, the patient may be asked to avoid eating for 8-12 hours before the test
  • Depending on the procedure adopted, the patient may be asked for certain bowel or bladder preparations, before the preparation sessions
  • For some other tests, the patient may be asked to drink about 6 glasses of water, 2 hours prior to the examination and avoid urinating, in order to keep the bowel full, during the exam

What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?

  • A physician will request your consent for the Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure using an Informed Consent Form
  • Consent for the Procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent
  • You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure

What are the Benefits versus Risks, for this Procedure?

Following are the benefits of a Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan:

  • A Venous Ultrasound provides detailed pictures of vein and not only shows clots in large veins but also shows movement of clots in vein, thus effective in preventing clots going to the lungs and causing serious complications
  • The ultrasound scan does not involve the use of any ionizing radiation
  • Ultrasound imaging is noninvasive, inexpensive, quick, and simple
  • The procedure captures clear images of soft tissues in real-time
  • The procedure can be used in needle biopsies or needle aspiration

Following are the risks of a Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan:

  • Generally none 

What are the Limitations of the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

Following are the limitations of a Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan:

  • Smaller veins are difficult to visualize and evaluate with a Venous Ultrasound
  • Venous Ultrasound cannot really differentiate between a completely occluded (obstructed) blood vessel, as compared to a vessel that is significantly occluded, but not completely closed-off
  • Deep vessels are harder to see on a Venous Ultrasound

What are some Questions for your Physician?

Some of the basic questions that you might ask your healthcare provider or physician are as follows:

  • What is an Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure?
  • Why is this procedure necessary? How will it help?
  • How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
  • Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • What are the risks while performing the procedure?
  • What are the complications that might take place, during recovery?
  • What are the possible side effects from the procedure? How can I minimize these side effects?
  • How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
  • How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
  • Are there any follow-up tests, periodic visits to the healthcare facility required, after the procedure?
  • What are the costs involved?

During the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

What is to be expected during the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

The following may be expected from the Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan procedure:

  • The test does not cause any pain
  • The table you lie on may feel hard, and the room may be cool
  • It may be difficult to lie still during the test
  • Some individuals may feel nervous during the ultrasound scan
  • The healthcare professional will help you during the procedure for optimum images

What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?

Anesthesia is not used during a Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan procedure.

How much Blood will you lose, during the Procedure?

There is no blood loss involved with the Venous (Extremities) Ultrasound Scan procedure.

What are the possible Risks and Complications during the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

There are no known risks from an Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure.

What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

No specific post-operative care is needed at the healthcare facility after the procedure.

After the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

What is to be expected after the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

  • The Venous Ultrasound procedure is completely painless and noninvasive, and there is no discomfort involved
  • Gel on the exposed body region will be wiped-off, at the end of the imaging procedure
  • The patient may resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure

When do you need to call your Physician?

If the patient is experiencing an allergic reaction from the gel; then, do contact the physician.

What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

No specific post-operative care is needed at home after the Ultrasound Imaging - Venous (Extremities) procedure.

How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?

The patient needs no recovery time, after the Ultrasound Imaging - Venous (Extremities) procedure.

Additional Information:

What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?

A Venous Ultrasound procedure does not involve the removal of any body tissue.

When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out, during the Procedure?

Since no tissue is removed during the procedure, a pathologist does not get involved in the care of the patient.

Who will you receive a Bill from, after the Extremity Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers.

Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:

  • The hospital, where the procedure is performed
  • Healthcare providers, physicians, and radiologists, who are involved in the process

The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before the Ultrasound Venous (Extremities) Imaging Procedure is performed.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 21, 2014
Last updated: Jan. 26, 2019