Vascular Ultrasound | Tampa General Hospital

Vascular Ultrasound 

Also known as duplex studies, vascular ultrasounds are used to evaluate the circulatory system, which includes the arteries and veins. During an ultrasound, a technician uses a small device (transducer) to transmit inaudible high-frequency sound waves into a patient’s body, which then bounce back and produce photographic or video images of the body’s internal structures on a monitor. Vascular ultrasounds, specifically, are used to examine the body’s circulatory system. 

Conditions Diagnosed 

Vascular ultrasounds can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including: 

  • Blood clots and other blockages within the blood vessels (arteries and veins) 
  • Blood vessel narrowing 
  • Aneurysms 
  • Infections 
  • Tumors
  • Varicose veins 
  • Vascular malformations 

Although vascular ultrasounds are often performed for diagnostic purposes, they can also be used to: 

  • Determine whether a patient would be a good candidate for surgery 
  • Monitor blood flow in a patient who recently underwent an organ transplant or another procedure involving the bypass or grafting of blood vessels 
  • Help place a needle or catheter into a blood vessel (often in children) 

Procedure Details 

During your vascular ultrasound, the technician will apply a water-soluble gel over the area being examined, then hold a transducer in place over the gel while your blood circulation is being recorded. The duration of the procedure will vary from one patient to another, but vascular ultrasound scans commonly last between 30 and 90 minutes. Once your ultrasound is complete, your physician will review the results and explain them to you. 

What to Expect 

Your doctor will provide you with personalized instructions on how to prepare for your vascular ultrasound and what to expect during the procedure, and you should defer to that information. Upon arriving for the procedure, you’ll likely be asked to remove any jewelry that you’re wearing and change into a hospital gown. If the technician needs to apply pressure to your arms or legs, you may experience a small amount of discomfort, but otherwise you should not feel any pain. Vascular ultrasounds are very safe and typically do not cause any side effects. 


Vascular ultrasounds are generally considered to be highly effective, especially since ultrasounds are able to produce images of soft tissues that otherwise could not be seen on an X-ray. The skilled providers at Tampa General Hospital have extensive experience performing vascular ultrasounds and other imaging tests, and will use this background to provide patients with the first-rate care they deserve.