Venous diseases affect the body’s veins, which carry blood back to the heart. Problems occur because of inflammation, blood clots, obstruction, stretching, or trauma. Veins may also be affected by too much pressure on the valves in the veins from pregnancy, sleep apnea and obesity or activities that require a lot of standing.
A peripheral ultrasound is a noninvasive test that can be used to estimate the blood flow through your blood vessels by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off circulating red blood cells. The peripheral ultrasound can estimate how fast blood flows by measuring the rate of change in its pitch (frequency). During an ultrasound machine, a technician trained in ultrasound imaging (sonographer) presses a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined, moving from one area to another as necessary.
There are four types of venous diseases:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT or blood clots);
- Chronic venous hypertension (valve damage);
- Superficial thrombophlebitis (also called phlebitis) and;
- Varicose veins.
Venous disease affects about 15 percent of the adults in the United States. While varicose veins generally do not pose great health risk, deep vein thrombophlebitis (blood clot in the vein) can be life-threatening.
This test may be done as an alternative to more-invasive procedures, such as angiography, which involves injecting dye into the blood vessels so that they show up clearly on X-ray images.
A peripheral ultrasound test may also help your doctor check for injuries to your arteries or to monitor certain treatments to your veins and arteries.