At South Shore Cardiovascular Associates, the highly sought-after cardiologists leverage multiple diagnostic tools to determine the cause of symptoms and develop customized treatment plans. Ultrasound technology plays an important role in that process, and there are various types of ultrasounds to suit different needs. To learn more about how ultrasound can guide heart treatments for men and women in Brandon, Riverview, Tampa, and Sun City Center, Florida, schedule a consultation today, online or by phone.

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How does ultrasound work?

Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to create an “image” of the internal structures of your body. The process uses a small probe called a transducer to direct high-frequency sound waves into your body, where they bounce off your internal tissues and return to the transducer.

The sounds that return are collected and used to create an image. Doppler ultrasound is a specialized technique that not only shows structures but also displays the flow of blood through your arteries and veins.

What types of Doppler radar are used to diagnose heart issues?

There are various types, all based on the same technology but applied in different ways.

Arterial Doppler

This approach uses ultrasound technology to check blood flow in the arteries that carry blood to your arms or legs. Blood pressure cuffs are placed at various points along your arms and legs to gather measurements and check for arterial blockage.

Venous Doppler

This approach uses ultrasound technology to check for blood clots in your arms or legs. The results can be used to diagnose damaged blood vessel valves or to map out your blood vessels in preparation for bypass surgery.

Carotid Doppler

This approach uses ultrasound technology to check for narrowing or blockage of your carotid arteries, which carry blood from your heart to your brain. This test can determine if you’re at a high risk for stroke, to see if blood flow improves after surgery, or to check the position of a stent.

Your specialist will explain what to expect with Doppler ultrasound, but the process is painless and relatively straightforward.

What is an ankle-brachial index test?

You may not think your ankle plays much of a role in heart health, but this relatively small area of your body can reveal a wealth of information about how well your heart is doing its job. An ankle-brachial index test is a diagnostic tool that evaluates your blood flow.

The test is used to screen for peripheral artery disease, which is characterized by arterial blockage in your arms and legs. When those arteries become blocked, your limbs won’t get sufficient oxygen. You’ll also have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

How does an ankle-brachial index test work?

The test itself takes only 10-15 minutes to complete. Once you’re reclined on the exam table, a blood pressure cuff is secured to your arm. A bit of gel is placed on your arm, and a Doppler ultrasound device is placed over the gel.

That device directs sound waves into your body and records the sounds that bounce back after hitting your internal tissues. The device features a speaker to let your specialist hear the flow of blood.

Your blood pressure is measured, then the cuff and ultrasound device are moved to the other arm and then to both legs. In some cases, you might be asked to walk on a treadmill between readings.

The blood pressure readings are calculated to determine the index number. If the index is below 0.9, you most likely have peripheral artery disease. If the index is over 1.4, then there is a problem with the test and a different diagnostic approach is needed. If your test included an exercise portion, the interpretation may differ a bit.

To explore any of these diagnostic options in greater detail, book a one-on-one consultation today, online or by phone.