The ultrasound is one of the most important diagnostic tool vein specialist utilize. Ultrasound machines work by generating harmless, painless, inaudible sound waves and emitting them into the body through an instrument placed on the skin (with gel in between).
Most leg vein ultrasound tests are done to detect potentially dangerous blood clots in the veins. The tests are usually performed with the patient lying down while the physician compresses the vein and at the same time views the ultrasound image. Normal veins compress while veins with clots do not.
We’ve had new patients visit us stating they’ve had normal ultrasound tests. Unfortunately, if the tests were for blood clots, they likely won’t detect the leaky valve conditions that may show up as varicose veins. There is a difference from an ultrasound performed while the person is lying down vs. standing up.
When the ultrasound test is performed while the patient is standing up, gravity will naturally pull the blood in the legs down. If the vein valves are normal, when the calf is squeezed, the blood will be pushed up by the squeeze. Therefore, when released, the diagnostic will not detect back flow because the one-way valves worked. In cases when the valves are leaking, when the calf is squeezed and then released, the diagnostic will show a back flow of blood down the vein.
Ultrasound imaging has other important uses in vein treatment. While laser or Radiofrequency ablations are performed, ultrasound guides the procedure by showing the physician precisely where to insert and position the fibers and where to inject the local anesthetic. Additionally, with sclerotherapy injections, ultrasound helps guide the needle into the vein and confirm effectiveness. Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of previous treatments.