Venous Ultrasound aids in the evaluation of veins that circulate to the extremities of the body, that is, to the arms and legs. It is a valuable tool for detecting blood clots, particularly deep vein thrombosis in the legs. If not treated, this condition can result in a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot that has migrated to the lungs. A sudden pulmonary embolism can result in death or serious damage to the lungs and other organs. Early detection of blood clots in the leg is crucial to preventing this high-risk situation.
Venous ultrasound also helps in the evaluation of leg swelling and damaged blood vessel valves, and can be used to guide accurate insertion of a catheter or needle into a vein. It is a valuable tool in preparation for bypass surgery because it enables the surgical team to map the veins in a limb and plan which segments will be removed and used elsewhere to bypass a compromised vessel. Coronary bypass surgery is a common example in which segments of leg vein are used to bypass a partially or fully blocked artery in the heart. Finally, venous ultrasound is useful in evaluating the success of a blood vessel graft in dialysis patients.
Venous sonography performed on children can guide needle or catheter placement to lower the risk of bleeding and clots. It can also aid in evaluating congenital vascular abnormalities as well as dialysis fistulas, which are locations where a blood vessel and artery have been joined, in kidney patients.
Limitations of Venous Ultrasound
As with vascular ultrasound, venous ultrasound in adults and pediatric patients cannot produce high quality imaging of veins located deep in the body. A common example of a venous imaging limitation is the smaller veins located deep in the calf.