When it comes to diagnostic tools, ultrasounds are amongst the least dangerous. They don't emit radiation, which means they're safe for use on pregnant women. If you're due for a vascular ultrasound, it's normal to wonder what their advantages are and how clinicians can use them.
The Advantages of Vascular Ultrasounds
Unlike some other forms of imaging, they don't require contrast dyes and they won't expose you to radiation. Certain people shouldn't be exposed to radiation, such as pregnant women and those who encounter a lot of radiation at work. Additionally, some people may feel uncomfortable with the idea of exposure.
Contrast dyes can be problematic, as it takes a lot of effort for kidneys to filter them. Fortunately, ultrasounds machines don't require a contrast dye, which makes it useful for those with underlying kidney conditions.
Looking at Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a disease where the arteries in your legs gradually narrow. During the earlier phases, it may cause problems such as feeling uncomfortable while walking. As it progresses, there's a risk of ulcers and gangrene of the leg.
Clinicians who use ultrasound to investigate PAD can create reports for surgeons who may want to operate. Additionally, they can use it to refine their diagnosis and give you a PAD grading. When you have a better insight into how narrow your arteries are and where those narrowings lie, your treatment options will become clearer.
Investigating Your Carotid Artery
As a major artery that carries blood from your heart to your brain, the carotid artery plays an important role in your wellbeing. Certain conditions can result in narrowing, also known as atherosclerosis. Over time, this can result in clots forming.
If your doctor suspects your carotid artery has narrowed, a vascular ultrasound allows them to assess how narrow it is. From there, they can make treatment recommendations, such as placing a stent.
Assessing an Aortic Aneurysm
As the largest artery in your body, your aorta carries blood from your left ventricle to the rest of your body. If you have high blood pressure, you consume large amounts of alcohol or you smoke, you're at risk of developing an aortic aneurysm. Ultrasounds allow doctors to assess aortic aneurysms and grade them. When they reach a certain stage, they make recommendations for surgery and other interventions.
Regardless of why you need imaging, it's always worth asking your medical team for more information about ultrasounds.