Ultrasound examination of the leg arteries (sonography of the leg arteries)

What is an ultrasound examination of the leg arteries?

An ultrasound examination is a non-invasive examination method, in which certain organs or arteries, in this case the leg arteries, can be imaged with the aid of sound waves. This method can be used to determine whether calcium has been deposited in the arteries or veins of the leg, which impair the flow of blood, or whether there are any inflammatory reactions or obstructions such as so-called “smoker’s leg”. The doctor can also identify so-called varicose veins or risks of a thrombosis.

When is ultrasound examination of the leg arteries necessary?

The risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (nicotine intake, overweight, high cholesterol levels, lack of exercise or diabetes) can also lead to problems in the leg arteries, such as calcium deposits on the vessel walls, inflammatory reactions or obstructions. This can be determined with the aid of Doppler and colour duplex sonography.

The leg veins, which carry blood low in oxygen back to the heart, can also be examined by means of ultrasound. This can be used for the diagnosis of so-called varicose veins or vein valve malfunctions in the deep leg veins, which increase the risk of a thrombosis. If leg vein thromboses have already formed, these can be detected and treated at an early stage. Without treatment, this would pose the risk of a possibly life-threatening lung embolism.

Procedure

The doctor applies a gel to the skin and examines the legs with an ultrasonic transmitter.

In some arterial examinations, a wide blood pressure cuff is applied alternately to the left and right upper and lower leg in order to measure the so-called “closing pressure of the arteries”. This enables the clearer identification of an arterial obstructive disease (AOD).

The ultrasound examination is carried out at our practice on an out-patient basis.

Duration

Ultrasound examination of the leg arteries takes approx. 5-15 minutes, depending on the vessels (veins or arteries).

Risks

Since ultrasound waves are used, this examination involves no risks for the patient.