Extremity Venous Ultrasound: Venous Insufficiency & DVT

An extremity venous ultrasound examines the veins in the arms or legs.  Venous insufficiency exams are done in the legs only.  An exam done to evaluate for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be of the arm or leg.  Images are acquired using a hand held probe (transducer) that is applied to the arm or leg. 

Why is an extremity venous ultrasound performed?

Venous Insufficiency exam:

  • Evaluate for the presence or absence of venous insufficiency (also known as venous reflux).  Venous insufficiency occurs when valves in the veins are not working correctly, causing leg swelling, discomfort, and varicose veins.  This exam evaluates both the deep and superficial veins in the legs.
  • Monitor existing venous insufficiency or follow-up after treatment.
  • DVT exam:
  • Evaluate for the presence or absence of a blood clot (thrombus) in the veins of the leg or arm.
  • Monitor known DVT.

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 will feel the pressure of the transducer on your arm or leg.  The sonographer will need to press on your arm or leg to compress the veins being examined, which can sometimes cause discomfort.


How long does the test take?

An exam of a single arm or single leg takes about 30-45 minutes and an exam of both arms or both legs takes about 60 minutes, depending on many variables.


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.

If your exam is positive for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), one of our providers will discuss exam results and treatment recommendations with you following the exam.