Extremity Arterial Ultrasound

An extremity arterial ultrasound examines the arteries in the arm and/or leg.  Images are acquired using a hand held probe (transducer) that is applied to the arm or leg. 

Why is an extremity arterial ultrasound performed?

This test is used to:

  • Look for blockages or narrowing caused by plaque in the arteries of the arms or legs.
  • Look for enlargement of the arteries in the arms or legs (aneurysm).
  • Monitor existing arterial disease or follow-up after surgical intervention.

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test (unless you are also scheduled that day for an ultrasound exam that requires fasting).

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.

What happens during the test?

  • A vascular sonographer will perform the ultrasound exam.
  • You will need to remove your pants, socks and shoes for a leg exam or remove your shirt for an arm exam.  The sonographer will provide you with a paper drape or gown.  During the exam you will lie on your back on an exam table. The sonographer will move a transducer along your arm or leg. The transducer will have a small amount of gel on the end of it. The gel used during the exam is water-soluble and easily washes off with soap and water.

How will I feel during the test?

You should feel no significant discomfort during this test. You will feel the pressure of the transducer on your arm or leg.

How long does the test take?

An exam of a single arm or single leg takes about 30 minutes and an exam of both arms or both legs takes about 60 minutes, depending on many variables. After the test, you may go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.

How do I get the results of my test?

After a vascular surgeon has interpreted your exam, the results will be sent to your referring physician and/or the vascular surgeon will go over the results with you during a follow-up appointment.