The main veins of your arm transporting blood back to the heart are assessed during this study to ensure that the veins are patent (not blocked) and that a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or clot has not formed. The formation of a thrombus in the vein can reduce or stop the flow of blood in it. A piece of thrombus, if dislodged, can be carried up the vein into the lungs, via the heart, causing a pulmonary embolism, a extremely serious condition.
Ultrasound is a painless and effective means of examining the veins in the arm. High frequency sound waves, including Doppler ultrasound, are used to assess both the structure of the veins, and the blood flow in them, commencing at the Jugular Vein in the neck, down to the smaller veins in the lower arm.
You will need to change for this examination. The sonographer will leave you to change, in the privacy of the ultrasound room. You need only remove your shirt or top and put the blue gown provided over your remaining clothes. The gown should open at the front.
You will lie on your back during the study, with your arm flat and the palm of the hand turned up. A small quantity of warm gel will be applied to your skin during the study, to enable the ultrasound to penetrate the skin layer.
During the examination the sonographer will apply a slight pressure to the probe, to assess if the vein can be compressed. The sonographer will also squeeze the leg to exam if the blood can be pushed up the vein. These tests are used to assess if the vein is patent (not blocked). Images of each vein are recorded as the study progresses.
If a DVT or clot is identified, you will be told by the sonographer and your doctor immediately contacted with the results.