Ultrasound duplex scanning is the workhorse technology for the Vascular Laboratory. Duplex scanning is non-invasive, safe and cost-effective. It can be used for vascular disease screening, but it can also provide definitive diagnosis in many cases.

Duplex scanning uses two-dimensional, grayscale, B-mode imaging to create a picture of vessel anatomy. Imaging can also characterize plaque, thrombus or other vessel pathology. Doppler ultrasound evaluation of blood-flow velocities is the other component of duplex scanning. Flow velocity information can be read from a Doppler waveform or displayed a color overlay on the grayscale image.

The UC Davis Health System's Vascular Laboratory uses a suite of full-featured ultrasound systems with state-of-the-art imaging technologies. These ultrasound systems are used for many types of studies, including carotid artery (extracranial cerebrovascular), transcranial duplex (intracranial cerebrovascular), peripheral arterial and venous, abdominal vascular (aorta, renal, mesenteric arterial, portal venous), and other applications. Electronic image recording and storage on UC Davis Health System’s PACS system allows clinicians convenient and secure access to vascular studies from any network workstation.

Vascular studies are done not only in the Vascular Laboratory, but wherever the need arises. Vascular Laboratory technologists perform studies in the operating room, catheterization lab, intensive care units and other locations throughout the medical center. Compact ultrasound systems make it easier for “point of care” studies to be performed without the need to move the larger duplex scanners to the patient location.

Testing for upper- and lower-extremity arterial disease commonly includes use of physiologic testing methods. These tests include limb or digit pressure measurements with pneumatic cuffs and Doppler flow detectors; plethysmography (measurements of volume changes due to pulsatile blood-flow); and other techniques. These tests can also be performed before and after treadmill exercise, which may be helpful in the evaluation of patients with intermittent claudication.