Diagnosing Vascular Disease

If your physician suspects you have vascular disease, your physician may order one or more of the following tests. Most of these tests are non-invasive x-rays used to see closer to and inside your veins to search for blockages.

Ankle-brachial index (ABI)

This is a test in which blood pressure is taken in the arms and in the legs. ABI compares the blood pressure in the ankle with the blood pressure in the arm using a regular blood pressure cuff and a Doppler ultrasound device. To determine the ABI, the systolic blood pressure (the top number of the blood pressure measurement) of the ankle is divided by the systolic blood pressure of the arm.


An ultrasound is a non-invasive x-ray test that uses sensor to read through your skin into different parts of the body, such as your heart and veins. You will lay down, and a technologist will put clear jelly on the area that needs to be read (such as the heart, or on your leg). The technologist will rub the sensor on the jelly to see the affected area. Once it's in place, an image appears on a video screen, and the technician or doctor moves the sensor to take pictures of the affected area. You may hear a swishing noise, and that is your heartbeat.

This test usually takes 15-30 minutes. Most people don't feel any discomfort.

Carotid Artery Duplex Scan

This is an ultrasound of the carotid arteries used to assess blood flow from the heart through the neck to the brain.

Venous ultrasound

If you have pain or swelling in one leg, your doctor may order an ultrasound to determine whether your symptoms are caused by a blockage. The venous ultrasound is an ultrasound of the leg, which looks for a blocked vein. Such blockages are usually caused by blood clots, which can be dangerous and even life threatening if they break loose and travel through the blood to the lungs.

Arterial ultrasound

Your doctor has requested an ultrasound of the arteries (vessels that carry blood from your heart) in your leg(s). This procedure uses color to map the arteries in your leg(s) to identify narrowing of your vessels that may be causing leg pain when walking, resting leg pain, foot, ankle, heel or toe ulcers, or skin discoloration.

Venous insufficient test (venous ultrasound for varicose veins)

This is an ultrasound performed on varicose veins to determine if there are any blockages.

Aneurysm testing

An aortic aneurysm is often discovered an X-ray, ultrasound, or echocardiogram done for other reasons. Your physician may order computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), which are used to view more details than an ultrasound can provide. It is important know to the exact location and size of the aneurysm and how fast it’s growing and what else it’s affecting in the body. 

For more information on vascular disease and testing, all us at 314-996-9627 or contact us online.

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