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A vascular ultrasound is a noninvasive ultrasound method (also called a duplex study) used to examine the circulation in the blood vessels of the body.
Vascular ultrasound can be used to evaluate arteries or veins in nearly any part of the body, including blood vessels in the neck, abdomen, arms and legs. Non- invasive means the procedure does not require the use of needles or anesthesia. Unlike other imaging tests, ultrasound does not require radiation or contrast dye.
During a vascular ultrasound study, sound waves are transmitted through the tissues of the area being examined. These sound waves reflect off of blood cells moving within the blood vessels, and return to the ultrasound machine. The sound waves are recorded and displayed on a computer screen to make an image of the blood vessel. The speed of the sound waves returning to the ultrasound machine allow for calculation of the speed of blood flow in the vessel. When the speed of blood flow in a blood vessel is too fast, this indicates a narrowing (blockage).
(Article from hopkinsmedicine.org)