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Ultrasound scan of your leg veins

Patient information A-Z

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 and they have valves to help control flow in the right direction.

This test is a safe and effective way to assess if the valves in the veins are working properly. If the veins are not working properly, the ultrasound scan can map out the problem veins enabling the consultant to plan your treatment.

The test is painless and does not use any radiation or needles.

About the test

Where to 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?

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. Before your test is performed, you must give your consent. 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.

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.

If possible, the scan will be performed with you either standing or sitting on the edge of the couch with your legs hanging down. Gel is applied to your leg and the scan is carried out from the groin down to the ankle. The scientist will gently squeeze your calf to control the blood flow, whilst moving the ultrasound probe up and down your leg to view the veins. The investigation takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes. During the test, you may hear some 'swooshing' noises from the ultrasound machine. These sounds are normal.

Ultrasound scan of leg veins

Risks / side effects

Some people experience dizziness or feel faint during the examination. This is a normal response and can be relieved by lying flat. Please inform the scientist if you experience these symptoms during your visit.

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 and 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

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151