Ultrasound is the sound waves, emitted by specialized machines, which is above the capacity of the human ear to perceive. Ultrasound sound passes freely through body fluids and soft tissues. However, if their path is obstructed by denser materials, for example a blood clot, they stop and rebound i.e. an echo is produced. Incidentally, when the sound waves hit different parts of the body it produces echo in varying frequencies because not all body parts are of the same density. Using ultrasound imaging is a great blessing in the diagnoses and treatment of venous disorders because it helps us to understand the structure and movement of blood vessels and other internal organs.
How is ultrasound performed in diagnosing venous diseases?
Ultrasound is a painless and noninvasive (sound waves are not radioactive) diagnostic technique widely used to diagnose venous diseases. An ultrasound session may last for 15 to 45 minutes depending upon the body part under examination. An ultrasound operator would place a probe on the surface of the body where internal structure needs to be visualized. A jelly is applied between the probe and skin in order to ensure proper contact. The machine will send ultrasound waves into the body and the echoes of which are then captured by the ultrasound machine to produce pictures or videos of the internal structure in action.
Types of ultrasound performed in diagnosing venous diseases
Various ultrasound techniques are in practice to diagnose different venous diseases. For example, an ultrasound technique called Duplex ultrasound is used to determine the blood flow and structure of the leg veins. An element of Duplex ultrasound called gray scale ultrasound is employed to image plaques and blood clots directly. Another technique called color-Doppler ultrasound is used to visualize the flow or movement of the blood stream. A Doppler ultrasound session may reveal the amount of blood flow through major arteries and veins and help us evaluate blockages to blood flow, floating clots or embolus, or narrowing of blood vessels due to plaque accumulation. Venous ultrasound techniques are nearly as accurate for detecting blood clots in the in the lower legs.
Other specialized ultrasound techniques such as arterial sonography also help us to assess the patency and possible obstruction of the arteries. Thrombosonography, another specialized ultrasound technique, help to diagnose the presence of deep vein thrombosis and venosonography aid in determining the extent and severity of venous insufficiency.
In short, ultrasound techniques have evolved as an unavoidable component in the diagnosis of venous diseases.
Hennerici, M., & Neuerburg-Heusler, D. (1998). Vascular Diagnosis with Ultrasound: Clinical Reference with Case Studies. New York: Thieme.