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Ultrasound scan of your leg 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 of your veins. This test uses ultrasound to produce images of the veins in your legs. The veins carry blood from the extremities back to the heart. This test is a safe and effective way to assess there are any clots in the deep veins of your legs. 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. The test is painless and does not use any radiation or needles. There are no risks associated with this test.

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 being performed 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.

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. A clinical vascular scientist (who might be male or female) will perform and interpret your ultrasound scan. You will be asked to remove your shoes, socks and trousers or skirt. The lights will be dimmed to allow the best images to be obtained. The scan will be performed with you sat on the couch. Gel is applied to your leg and the scan is carried out from the groin down to the ankle. The scientist will use the ultrasound probe to press down on the veins on your leg from your groin to your ankle to see if there is clot in the vein. They may also gently squeeze your calf to control the blood flow, whilst moving the probe up and down your leg to view the veins. The investigation takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

Ultrasound scan of bypass graft
This image shows the procedure.

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.