Duplex Arterial Scan: Find Out What This Test is Used For and How It Is Done

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Doctors often use a diagnostic tool, known as a duplex arterial scan, to take images of the arteries inside the arm, neck, and legs. This procedure is more commonly known as an arterial duplex scan. This procedure is a very simple and pain free tool used by doctors to properly diagnose many medical conditions.

What is an Arterial Duplex Scan?

An arterial duplex scan uses high frequency sound waves, known as an ultrasound, to take images of many major arteries in the body. It is commonly used for the arteries in the neck, arms, and legs. Duplex arterial scans allow doctors to see any plaque build up that may be in the arteries.

A Doppler ultrasound can also be used to allow doctors to see images of the blood traveling through the arteries. This allows doctors to see if the blood is flowing properly and if there may be a build up.

How is the Procedure Conducted?

This procedure is very simple to conduct. A special ultrasound jelly will be placed on the area where the images will be taken. The transducer device of the ultrasound machine will be passed over the jelly covered area to capture the images of the arteries. Images will appear on the ultrasound machines screen and can later be printed onto paper or even recorded to a video. A doctor may ask for contrast dye to be injected to make the images clearer.

What Preparation is Needed?

Before the procedure is done, an evaluation of where the arteries are in the body that will be examined. It may be advised to not eat or drink the night before the test is done. Gas in the body can interfere with ultrasound images. If a doctor decides contrast dye needs to be used, it will be injected into the viens before the procedure begins.

What are the Risks of the Procedure?

The risks of this procedure are very rare and are not severe. This is a very simple procedure that produces very little pain or discomfort. Possible skin irritation can occur from the jelly but this is extremely rare. Slight discomfort may be experienced from pressure during the ultrasound. If contrast is used, there is a very rare possibility of allergic reaction to the contrast dye that is used.


“Arterial Duplex Scan” 2009 www.memorialcare.org

“Peripheral Arterial Duplex Scanning” www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu