What Is Duplex Ultrasound? 

Male outline showing major blood vessels, brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Duplex ultrasound is a type of ultrasound that makes 2 kinds of images. First, it creates pictures of your blood vessels. Then, it makes graphs that show the speed and the direction of blood flow through the vessels. These images are viewed on a computer screen. No radiation or contrast fluid (dye) is used during the test. Ultrasound tests are safe to use during all stages of pregnancy.

What is duplex ultrasound used for?

Duplex ultrasound can help your healthcare provider find problems with blood vessels. These problems may include:

  • Carotid occlusive disease, which can lead to stroke. 

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can lead to arm or leg pain. 

  • Aneurysm. A ballooning out of a blood vessel wall.

  • Dissection. A tear in the layers of a blood vessel wall.

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A blood clot in the deep veins of the legs.

  • Varicose veins. Swollen, twisted veins that can be seen under the skin’s surface.

  • Abnormal blood flow. An abnormal increase or decrease of blood flow to an area of your body. 

Duplex ultrasound can also help your healthcare provider:

  • Decide whether further testing is needed.

  • Determine the best treatment plan for you.

  • Get more information about your blood vessels before surgery is done.