Vascular Studies refer to procedures that help the doctor evaluate blood flow in arteries and veins. Dr. Diego may order a so-called Triple A– which stands for abdominal aorta and aneurysm– study. He may ask for a carotid duplex Doppler test; peripheral venous and peripheral arterial studies; or a renal artery ultrasound.

Vascular studies are an important component of cardiology. The circulatory (vascular) system is critical to the proper functioning of the heart and other organs. Our arteries carry blood enriched with oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body. The veins carry the blood away from the cells along with waste products such as carbon dioxide.

If the blood flow is impeded for any reason, the part of the body that those arteries supply will not receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients, resulting in damaged tissue and eventually to organ failure.

Vascular studies use Doppler Ultrasound or Color Doppler to ‘see’ the amount of blood being pumped through a blood vessel. The procedure is also used to detect abnormal blood flow, which may indicate a blood clot, plaque or inflammation.

This tool can be used to assess blood flow in the arms and legs, or in the carotid arteries in the neck.

Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, or Peripheral Venous Disease (PVD) refers to a narrowing of blood vessels because of plaque. Since many patients with PAD have no symptoms, a good diagnosis is critical.

PAD or PVD may be detected by means of an ankle-brachial index test, which compares blood pressure in the ankle with pressure in the arm. Or it may be detected with various other tests such as Doppler Ultrasound or a Magnetic Resonance Angiogram.

These are some of the conditions that could impede blood flow:

  • Atherosclerosis, or a gradual clogging of the arteries by fatty deposits known as plaque
  • Aneurysm, or a bulge in the blood vessel or heart muscle which could burst
  • Thrombus or embolus, blood clots which may relocate in the brain or heart
  • Inflammation within a blood vessel

The doctor may order vascular studies if a patient has any of these symptoms: soreness or swelling in the legs; leg pain or weakness; pale complexion or lack of color; pain in the foot while sitting or lying down; erectile dysfunction, especially in men who have diabetes.

A renal artery ultrasound may be performed if the doctor suspects that the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys are blocked. This test is administered with a Doppler transducer which is moved across the surface of the skin. Through this device, the doctor can hear the blood flow. Blood pressure cuffs may be applied, to measure the blood pressure in a certain area of the body.

Vascular studies are non-invasive and safe. The Cardiology Healthcare staff may give you specific instructions about your diet and medications when the test is scheduled.