Vascular imaging with ultrasound technology helps you and your doctor determine what’s happening in your body’s blood vessels. These painless, noninvasive, no-radiation tests can reveal plaque buildup or hardening in the arteries (atherosclerosis), blood clots, aneurysms or other abnormalities that may disrupt blood flow and raise your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Venous imaging focuses on veins, which carry blood back to the heart. Arterial imaging focuses on arteries, which carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body’s tissues. Common arterial imaging procedures include:
- Carotid Ultrasound — Uses sound waves sent and received from a handheld wand (transducer) to create pictures of the carotid arteries in your neck that carry blood to the brain.
- Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound — Uses sound waves to picture the aorta, the main artery that carries blood to your lower body. This test is especially useful to detect abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakened spot in the aortic wall that bulges out and may rupture if not repaired.
Your doctor may also recommend cardiac CT and MRI scans to create even more detailed images of your heart and its blood vessels.
- Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) — Using X-rays, a CT scan creates computerized images or 3D models of your heart and its blood vessels.
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves (not radiation) to create pictures of your heart, revealing information that may not show up with an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.