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An Overview of Arterial Duplex Ultrasound Scan

Your Phoenix cardiologist may request that you have an ultrasound of the arteries in your arms, legs, pelvic region, or neck. Arteries are the vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other areas of the body. Ultrasound is a procedure that uses sound waves to look inside of your body. With an arterial duplex ultrasound scan, advanced technology allows the Arizona cardiologist to check for narrowing of your arteries that can cause leg pain, skin discoloration, and ulcerations.

Before the Exam

There is no special preparation for most arterial duplex ultrasound scans. However, you will want to bring a music player, book, or magazine to pass the time if you have to wait. Also, we request that you leave jewelry and valuable personal items at home.

During the Exam

Most arterial duplex ultrasound scans take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. The vascular technologist will explain the test and answer any questions you may have. The procedure will be done with you lying on an examination table with your hands at your sides. The steps of this exam include:

  • Warm Gel Application – The technologist applies a warm gel to the part of your body that is being tested.
  • Transducer – The exam uses a transducer which glides across your skin. This small, microphone-like unit releases sound waves to assess your vessels.
  • Blood Pressure Readings – The technologist will take BP readings from your ankles, calves, and thighs may be taken during the exam.
  • Imaging – The sound waves bounce off tissue, muscle, and blood to create “echoes” that are reflected back to the transducer. A TV monitor displays images as the transducer converts the echoes into electronic signals. These images allow the doctor to assess for blockage, blood flow, and structural problems.

Types of Arterial Duplex Ultrasound Scans

There are several different kinds of arterial ultrasound tests. These include:

  • ABI Ultrasound – ABI stands for Ankle/Brachial Indices. Your doctor orders this test to evaluate narrowing of the vessels in your legs. Symptoms of narrow arteries include leg pain with walking, ulcerations of the lower extremities, and resting foot or leg pain. This non-invasive test takes approximately 15 minutes.
  • Aortic Iliac Ultrasound – The ultrasound that checks the aorta and iliac arteries is the aortic iliac ultrasound. The aorta is the main artery that delivers blood to the lower areas of the body. The iliac arteries branch off from the aorta and take blood to the lower extremities.
  • EVAR Ultrasound – EVAR stands for Endovascular Repair of Aortic Aneurysm. This test takes approximately 30 minutes. Following a surgical procedure where the doctor repaired an aortic aneurysm, the EVAR is used to assess for functioning of the vessels and adequate blood flow.
  • Femoral Artery Ultrasound – The femoral arteries are located in your groin. The femoral ultrasound is done to assess these arteries for blood clots, possible injury, or blockage. This test takes around 60 minutes.
  • Renal Artery Ultrasound – Renal artery stenosis is a condition where the renal arteries are narrowed or blocked. The renal artery ultrasound checks for blockage, blood clots, and aneurysm. The renal arteries arise off the side of the abdominal aorta that is below the superior mesenteric artery. These arteries deliver blood to the kidneys. This test takes around 60 minutes.
  • Intraoperative Duplex Ultrasound – To view the blood flow during a surgical bypass procedure, the doctor will conduct an intraoperative duplex ultrasound. This procedure checks arteries in the neck, kidneys, and lower extremities.

AZ Heart Doctor is the leading Phoenix cardiologist with offices in Tempe and Mesa. The Double Board Certified cardiologist supplies the East Valley with comprehensive noninterventional services including EKG’s, ultrasounds, stress testing and more. Most insurance is accepted. Call (480) 300-4646 for more information and scheduling today!


Cosgrove DO, Meire HB, & Lim A. (2008) Ultrasound: general principles. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Grainger RC, Allison D.Grainger and Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. Orlando, Fl: Churchill Livingstone.

Medline Plus (2013). Duplex Ultrasound. Retrieved from:

Zivin JA. (2011). Approach to cerebrovascular diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.

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