When patients first come to see our Phoenix vein specialists and schedule a venous health screening, they are sometimes hesitant when we tell them that we’re going to use ultrasound to look beneath the surface of the skin to look for signs of vein disease. To them the word “ultrasound” sounds vaguely like science-fiction, and somewhere in the back of their minds they remember that technologies that allow doctors to see the inside of our bodies (like X-ray) can actually sometimes be harmful. To ease any fears you might have about such things, in this article we’ll explain what ultrasound is and why it’s so safe.

What exactly IS ultrasound?

Ultrasound – also known as ultrasonic imaging or medical ultrasonography – is one of the most important advances in medical imaging technology. It’s called “ultrasound” because its ability to “see through” objects comes from its use of oscillating sound waves that are too high in frequency to be heard by the human ear. The result of an ultrasound – called a sonogram – is created using a small transducer, which sends pulses of high-frequency sound through the skin and then records the echoes these sounds make as they bounce off of bone, tissue, blood vessels, and internal organs. The echoes are then converted into two-dimensional images that provide a “map” of these internal structures.

The advantages of ultrasound

There are many reasons why the use of ultrasound has become so widespread in such a short amount of time. First, modern ultrasound equipment is so portable and lightweight it can be transported almost anywhere, and can be used even in the field by emergency teams. Second, ultrasound provides images in “real time,” avoiding the delays that used to be common when working with X-rays and film. Third, unlike magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CAT scans, ultrasound is inexpensive, and can be used in individual doctors’ offices, not just in hospitals with a big budget. And fourth and most important, ultrasound is safe and doesn’t use ionizing radiation the way that X-rays do.

Standard ultrasound shows doctors the inner structures of your body, while Doppler ultrasound is more useful for visualizing motion

Normal, “2-D” ultrasound creates a kind of map of the internal structures of your body, represented as gray-scale images of the areas being scanned. This type of ultrasound is useful for detecting structural abnormalities or blood clots that may be blocking deep arteries. To see the blood actually flowing through your veins, however, Arizona vein treatment specialists use Doppler ultrasound, which adds color to the gray-scale images and to detect motion inside the body. Thus vein doctors can use it to actually see blood as it flows through your veins, and to detect conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which causes blood to pool in your veins, causing them to become varicose.

So don’t worry – ultrasound is safe, and the best way to detect vein disease

Ultrasound is a good thing. It’s one of the tools we rely on to provide the highest levels of care to our patients at our Phoenix vein treatment center. So when you give us a call and make an appointment for your own venous health screening, you should feel happy that we’ll be using ultrasound. It’s one of the best tools we know of to help keep your veins healthy.

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