Ultrasound or sonography involves the sending of sound waves through the body. Those sound waves are reflected off the internal organs. The reflections are then interpreted by special instruments that utilize the information to create images of anatomic parts. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging.
Ultrasound can also be used to evaluate the body's circulatory system, both the arteries and veins. These vascular ultrasound images are captured in real-time allowing the blood to be visualized as it flows through vessels to organs and tissues throughout the body. Using this technique, radiologists can locate and identify blockages (stenosis) within vessels such as the carotid arteries or the arteries of the arms and legs. Ultrasound is also used to detect abnormalities within vessels such as blood clots or emboli and help plan for their effective treatment.
Vascular ultrasound is routinely used in the evaluation of the abdominal aorta to look for the presence of an aneurysm (abnormal ballooning of the artery). It can also be useful to evaluate the placement and success of various vascular stents and bypass grafts.