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Ultrasound scan of your arm veins (Deep Vein Thrombosis—DVT scan)

What is an ultrasound scan of your veins?

An ultrasound scan of your veins may also be called a Duplex or Doppler’s of your veins. This test uses ultrasound to produce images of the veins in your arms. The veins carry blood from your extremities back to your heart. This test is a safe and effective way to assess if there are any clots in the deep veins of your arms. These blood clots are often called a Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. If there is a blood clot, the ultrasound scan can show where the clot is. This will enable your consultant to plan your treatment.

Performing a Vascular Ultrasound

Where do I go?

The Vascular Studies Unit (VSU) is on level 5 of the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre (ATC). Please inform reception of your arrival straight away. There are often other clinics in progress so you may not be called in order of arrival. You may bring a relative or friend in with you during the test or request a chaperone if you would like one.

Vascular ultrasound equipment

What is consent?

Before your test is performed you must give your consent or permission. Consent is the process by which you give permission to health professionals to provide your care and treatment. It may be implied (offering your arm for a blood pressure reading) or formal (signing a formal consent form for an operation). In either case your consent must be given voluntarily and you must have all the information you need to make a decision. If you feel you do not have enough information or do not understand the procedure please ask

How is an ultrasound scan of your veins performed?

There is no preparation required and you may eat and drink as usual prior to the test. The scan takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes. The test is painless and does not use any radiation or needles. There are no risks associated with this test. A clinical vascular scientist (who might be male or female) will perform and interpret your ultrasound scan. The scan will be performed from the wrist, to the neck, so you may be asked to remove your top so he/she can scan the area of interest. The lights will be dimmed to allow the best images to be obtained. The scan will be performed with you lying down or seated on the edge of the couch. Gel is applied to your arm and the clinical vascular scientist will use the ultrasound probe to press down on the veins in your arm from your wrist to your neck to see if there is clot in the vein.

Performing an ultrasound of an arm

What happens next?

The clinical vascular scientist can comment briefly on the findings and will write a report for the consultant who requested the test. You will be able to discuss the results of this investigation fully with the referring team at your next outpatient appointment. In rare cases, the clinical vascular scientist may need to discuss the result with a doctor before you leave.