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Vascular ultrasound scan

Patient information A-Z

Ultrasound gel being applied to an ultrasound probe
Ultrasound gel being applied to an ultrasound probe.

What is a vascular ultrasound scan?

A vascular ultrasound scan, also called a 'duplex' or 'Doppler', uses ultrasound to produce images of blood vessels throughout the body. It is a safe and effective way to assess the blood flow in the arteries or veins.

The test is painless and does not use any radiation or needles. There are no risks associated with this test. The test can take up to one hour.

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 as soon as you enter the department. 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 Studies Unit assessment room
Vascular Studies Unit assessment room showing an assessment couch covered with couch roll, chair and ultrasound machine.

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 a vascular ultrasound scan performed?

There is no preparation needed and you may eat and drink as usual prior to the test.

A clinical vascular scientist (who may be male or female) will perform and interpret your ultrasound scan. You may need to remove some clothing so that he/she can scan the region 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 couch. Gel is applied to the part of the body to be scanned. The ultrasound probe will be moved across the region of the body to be scanned. During the test, you may hear some "swooshing" noises from the ultrasound machine. These sounds are normal.

An ultrasound probe being used to scan a patient’s forearm.
An ultrasound probe being used to scan a patient’s forearm.

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.

How to comment on your care:

We always aim to provide the best possible service, and staff will be happy to answer your questions. However, you can also contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) with any compliments or concerns by telephone 01223 216756 or email PALS.

Contacts / further information

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Vascular Studies Unit (VSU) on telephone: 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

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