Your healthcare provider has ordered a Venous Doppler scan, a non-invasive, painless ultrasound test done on the legs to determine whether or not the valves are incompetent. The technologist performing the exam is specially trained to evaluate the veins and how well the valves are working.
Healthy leg veins contain valves that allow blood to move in one direction towards the heart. These valves open when blood is flowing toward the heart and close to prevent backward flow of blood. When the veins weaken and become enlarged, also called varicose veins, their valves cannot close properly, so the blood falls backward. This causes increased pressure in the veins and pooling of the blood in the legs, and is called Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or venous reflux.
Venous reflux is most common in the superficial veins, or those closest to the skin. The largest superficial vein is the Greater Saphenous vein which runs from the top of the foot along the inside of the calf and thigh to the groin where it joins with the deep system called the Common Femoral vein. The venous Doppler test may be ordered if a patient exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Visible enlarged veins
- Swelling of the legs
- Aching, tired legs
- Darkened skin on the legs
- Ulcers on the legs
- Scaling skin on the legs
- Hard, leathery skin on the legs
You will be asked to remove any clothing that covers your legs and lie on your back on the stretcher. You will be covered with a drape and the stretcher will be tilted so your legs are lower than your head. The room will be darkened. Warm gel will be placed on your leg and on the transducer used to send sound waves to the veins. The technologist will begin the test by placing the transducer at the groin and then proceeds to the ankle, pressing and squeezing your leg periodically. At times you will be asked to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down for 2 seconds. This will help the technologist see whether the valves are working properly. After the test, the technologist will clean off the gel. You may leave as soon as the test is done. Test results will be discussed with you at your scheduled office visit. The technologist is not permitted to discuss the results with you.