Treatment Options  |  FAQs  |  Patient Resources

The vascular system is the network of blood vessels that circulate blood to and from the heart and lungs.

Vascular diseases are very common, especially as people age. Untreated vascular disease can lead to serious health problems.

Venous disease can be diagnosed using several non-invasive techniques that allow clinicians to "see" clots or other abnormalities in the blood vessels.

The Hartford Hospital Vascular Laboratory maintains accreditation from The Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL) in the areas of extracranial cerebrovascular, peripheral venous, and peripheral arterial testing. The mission of the ICAVL is to promote high quality noninvasive vascular diagnostic testing in the delivery of health care by providing a peer review process of laboratory accreditation.

Treatment Options

Arterial Evaluations

What is it?
An Arterial Evaluation of the legs is a noninvasive procedure used to screen for peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or bloackages in the arteries.

What can I expect during the examination?
The technologist will wrap a blood pressure cuff around each ankle, calf and thigh, and measure the blood pressure at these levels. By analyzing measurements made with blood pressure cuffs on the ankles, calves and thighs, narrowing of the arteries can be determined.

Your doctor may request that the test be done with exercise as well. The exercise portion of this study involves walking on a treadmill at a normal rate for 5 minutes.

Your doctor will receive the test results in about 2 working days.

What kinds of symptoms might I experience if I had PVD?
There are many signs and symptoms that you may experience such as:

  • Pain in the legs, feet or toes (especially with walking or exercise, that is relieved with rest)
  • Coldness in the feet or legs
  • Paleness of the feet when elevated
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or toes
  • Blue or red discoloration of the feet or toe

Carotid Duplex Examination

What is it?
A Carotid Duplex Examination is an ultrasound test of the carotid arteries in the neck that lead to the brain. This study is used to detect a blockage or narrowing of the carotid arteries which may cause a stroke.

What can I expect during the examination?
The Carotid Duplex Examination takes about 30 minutes. There are no special preparations. You should wear a loose fitting shirt or blouse that does not have a high neck. You will lie on an exam table in a darkened room while the technologist performs the exam.

Your doctor will receive the test results in approximately 2 working days.

What kind of symptoms might I experience if there were a blockage in my carotid arteries?
There are several signs and symptoms that you may experience such as:

  • Carotid bruit (a noise or murmur heard in the neck when your doctor listens to your neck with a stethoscope)
  • Loss of balance
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Aphasia (inability to speak)
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of your body
  • Amaurosis Fugax (transient blindness in one eye)
  • Syncope (fainting)

Venous Doppler Examination

What is it?
A Venous Doppler Examination uses ultrasound to create a two-dimensional picture of your veins. This test is helpful in diagnosing a blood clot or a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis.) or to test the valves in the veins of your leg. This exam may also be used to check the suitability of a vein that may be needed for an upcoming surgical procedure.

What kind of symptoms might I experience if I had a deep vein thrombosis or venous valve problems?
There are many signs and symptoms that you may experience, depending on how acute or chronic your vein problem is. Some of the symptoms you may experience are:

  • Limb swelling
  • Pain/Tenderness
  • Acute shortness of breath (occasionally a pulmonary embolus or blood clot in the lung is caused by a blood clot in the leg which has broken off and traveled to the lung)
  • Lower leg ulcers that won't heal or chronic skin discoloration, particularly in the ankle area

Lymphedema-Distichiasis Syndrome

Lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome is a rare genetic multisystem disorder characterized by swelling of the legs because of fluid accumulation and the development of extra eyelashes (distichiasis). Distichiasis may range from a few extra lashes to a full set of extra eyelashes. Swelling most often affects both legs (bilateral) and usually occurs around puberty. Additional anomalies sometimes associated with this disorder include early onset varicose veins, droopy eyelids (ptosis), cardiac (heart) defects, cleft palate, abnormal heart rhythm, and abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis). Lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome is caused by mutations of the FOXC2 gene and is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.

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Vascular Testing

Q: What is a vascular ultrasound exam?
A: A Vascular Ultrasound Exam looks at blood vessels to determine if there are any areas of narrowing, blockage or clots. Your doctor may request that the blood vessels in your neck, arms, or legs be examined.

Q: How is a vascular ultrasound exam performed?
A: The technologist will apply a water-based gel to the skin surface in the area being examined. The gel helps to transmit the ultrasound waves. The technologist will guide a transducer over the skin surface to examine the blood vessel.

Q: How is an arterial evaluation performed?
A: If an arterial examination of the arms or legs is ordered, the technologist may use blood pressure cuffs to evaluate the circulation.

Q: Are there any preparations needed for these tests (i.e.: do I need to fast)?
A: For the most part, there is no special preparation. The exception to the rule is when a renal exam is requested. For that particular exam we ask that you not eat or drink 8 hours prior to the exam.

Q: How long dos an exam take?
A: Typically, exams usually take between 30-60 minutes, depending on the specific test being requested.

Q: Will it hurt?
A: No.

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Patient Resources

Supporting Organizations

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: 301.251.4925 or 888.205.2311
Fax: 301.251.4911

Lymphatic Education & Research Network
261 Madison Ave.
9th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 516.625.9675
Fax: 516.625.9410

Lymphovenous Canada
8 Silver Ave.
Ontario, M6R 1X8
Tel: 416.533.2428

March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: 914.997.4488
Fax: 914.997.4763

NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
Tel: 301.592.8573
Fax: 301.251.1223

National Lymphedema Network, Inc.
116 New Montgomery Street
Suite 235
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: 415.908.3681
Fax: 415.908.3813

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