Duplex Doppler can be used to prevent, detect and help formulate a treatment program for vascular disease. It is not uncommon for people with dizziness, pain, weakness, numbness, or limb swelling to have conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol. Since these complaints can be due to both vascular and neurologic disorders, it can become a bit complex to decide what role they play in any individual case.
Even with the personal absence of other vascular-oriented conditions, if there is a history of smoking, a family history of vascular disease, or a failure to respond to neurologic-oriented treatments, then it may be worth checking for vascular disease. Quite often addressing an otherwise silent vascular component sets the stage for symptom relief.
Duplex ultrasound produces color-coded images that show physicians if blood is flowing in the proper direction or if there is a blockage. This information is needed to help diagnose carotid, leg and arm artery or vein disease. Diagnosed conditions include claudication (leg pain with exercise due to peripheral arterial disease), stenosis (narrowing of the vessel diameter) and phlebitis (inflammation of the vessel wall).
During the test you will be asked to lie on the table with your head slightly elevated. A special gel will be spread over the area under examination. The ultrasound wand is pressed against your skin and moved back and forth. As the wand you may hear a whooshing sound, which is the sound that the ultrasound machine makes to represent flow.
With the information obtained during the study, the Duplex portion of the test combines Doppler and conventional ultrasound to show how blood flows through the vessels. It also measures the speed of the flow of blood. In Triplex studies, waveform graphs that reflect fluid volume and dynamics are obtained as well.
There are no special instructions for you to follow before you have the test done or after the test. You may resume all of your normal activities.
Based upon the test results, various treatment options can be considered. These typically include lifestyle modification (proper diet, smoking cessation, exercise) and medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood flow. Additional treatments we have found to be effective include sympathetic block, anti-clotting agents, and improving orthopedic conditions that interfere with activity.
When vascular disease is both detected and treated early on, the vast majority of patients can achieve symptom reduction without surgery. In many cases the disease can actually be reversed. If you believe that there may be a vascular component to your symptoms, seeking proper medical advice can be well worth the effort.