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What Is Duplex Ultrasound? 

Human body showing blood vessels seen by duplex ultrasound. Brain, carotid artery, and kidney are shown.

Ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Duplex ultrasound is a type of ultrasound that makes two kinds of images. First, it creates pictures of your blood vessels. Then, it makes graphs that show how quickly blood flows through the vessels. These images are viewed on a computer screen. No radiation or contrast fluid (dye) is used during the test. Unlike x-rays and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound tests are safe to use during all stages of pregnancy.

What Is Duplex Ultrasound Used For?

Duplex ultrasound can help your healthcare provider find problems with blood vessels. These problems may include:

  • Narrowing or blockage, which can lead to problems such as leg pain or stroke.

  • Aneurysm, a ballooning out of a blood vessel wall.

  • Dissection, a tear in the layers of a blood vessel wall.

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs.

  • Varicose veins, swollen, twisted veins that can be seen under the skin’s surface.

Duplex ultrasound can also help your healthcare provider:

  • Decide whether further testing is needed.

  • Determine the best treatment plan for you.

  • Get more information about your blood vessels before surgery is done.

 

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