Vascular Investigation

What is Vascular Investigation
Preparations before test
How is test done
Is the test safe
When do I need a Vascular Investigation

Contributed by Dept of Cardiothoracic Surgery (website)

What is Vascular Investigation

Vascular Investigation consists of one or a combination of laboratory tests which include imaging the blood vessels with a duplex scan or measuring the blood flow and pressure in the vascular system using specialised machines.

A duplex scan is an ultrasound scan that uses high frequency sound waves to image the blood vessels in the body to assess their potency and to document any abnormalities.

Preparations before test

For an abdominal scan, you are required to fast at least eight hours before the scan to eliminate gas in the abdomen.

For all other scans, you may eat, go about your normal activity and continue to take medications prescribed by your doctor, unless otherwise informed.

You can carry out normal activities before and after the scan.

How is the test done

Before the start of the scan, your medical history will be noted and a physical measurement will be carried out to detect conditions such as presence of pulses, pain, ulcers or swelling. You may be required to change into a gown.

You will be asked to lie on your back and a coupling gel will be applied to the intended area to ensure a good transmission of the ultrasound.

The blood vessels will be examined and an assessment will be made from the images on the screen. The images will also be video-taped and kept as a record.

The whole procedure will take between 1 to 2 hours depending on the type of investigation requested. A report will be sent to your doctor who will discuss the results with you on your subsequent clinic consultation.

Is the test safe

Duplex scan is a painless procedure with no known side effects.

When do I need a Vascular Investigation

The following symptoms are indications that a duplex scan of the system may be required:-

1. Carotid Arterial System
a. Frequent dizziness or headaches
b. Fainting and memory loss
c. Sudden onset of visual disturbances
d. Speech impairment
e. Limb weakness and numbness
f. Carotid bruits (murmur)

2. Arteries of Upper and Lower Limbs
a. Pain or cramps in the limbs either at rest or upon exertion
b. Dusky fingers or toes
c. Non-healing ulcers
d. Sudden onset of pain in the limbs with coldness
e. Absence of pulses

3. Abdominal Aorta
a. Presence of pulsating mass in the abdomen

4. Renal Arteries
a. Persistent high blood pressure
b. Renal bruits
c. Shrinking of kidneys

5. Veins of Upper and Lower Limbs
a. Swelling of limbs
b. Pain or tenderness in the limbs
c. Discolouration (red)
d. Varicose veins
e. Thrombosis in the veins

6. Arterial Bypass Graft
Patients who have undergone surgical bypass and require a follow-up:
a. to document patency
b. for early detection of re-stenosis or occlusion
c. to detect and quantify new obstruction

7. Dialysis Access Graft
a. To document abnormalities of the graft
b. Loss of graft thrill
c. Difficult needle placement during dialysis
d. Swelling
e. Elevated venous pressure


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