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Ultrasound scan of your arm veins (deep vein thrombosis – DVT scan)

Patient information A-Z

Ultrasound scan of shoulder

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 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 (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.

Ultrasound probe

About the 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 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.

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 healthcare 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 needed 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 that the scientist 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 a clot in the vein.

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.

Contacts / further information

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to call the Vascular Studies Unit (VSU) on 01223 348117.

Privacy & dignity

Same sex bays and bathrooms are offered in all wards except critical care and theatre recovery areas where the use of high-tech equipment and/or specialist one-to-one care is required.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151