Venous Duplex Ultrasound
all information

Venous Duplex Ultrasound

(Venous Duplex Study; B-mode Imaging)

En Español (Spanish Version)


A venous duplex ultrasound is a test using high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that evaluates the flow of blood through the veins in the arms or legs.

Parts of the Body Involved

This ultrasound is typically focused on the arms or legs.

Reasons for Procedure

The test may be used for the following reasons:

  • To investigate the cause of the following symptoms in an arm or leg:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Increased warmth
    • Bulging veins
  • To diagnose the following:

Deep Vein Thrombosis

nucleus factsheet image

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure

There are no known risk factors that would predispose you to complications from this test.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

No special preparation is needed for this test. Tell your doctor what medications you are taking, especially if you are taking blood pressure or blood thinning medications. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.

During Procedure

You will be asked to lie on a table. Gel will be placed on the skin of your arm or leg, over the veins being tested.


Anesthesia is not needed.

Description of the Procedure

A hand-held ultrasound probe (transducer) will be placed over the veins in your arms or legs. Sound waves are transmitted from the probe into your body. As the sound waves bounce off structures in body, images are produced and recorded. The technologist may apply varying degrees of pressure to the probe against your skin in order to better visualize the vein and see if it can collapse under pressure.

After Procedure

You can get dressed and go home. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

How Long Will It Take?

The length of the test varies, depending on your particular situation. However, in most cases, it will take between 15 to 45 minutes.

Will It Hurt?

In general, this test is not painful. However, if you are having pain, you may feel some mild discomfort as pressure is applied to your arm or leg.

Possible Complications

This test poses no known risks.

Average Hospital Stay

The test is usually conducted on an outpatient basis.

Postoperative Care

There is no post care associated with the ultrasound.


A radiologist will evaluate the readings. The test results will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will notify you of the results and provide you with recommendations based on the findings of the test.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

  • Your symptoms continue or worsen
  • You develop any new symptoms


Canadian Family Physicians

Mt Sinai Hospital Canada


American College of Phlebology website. Available at: http://www.phlebology.org/ . Accessed April 25, 2003.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/ . Accessed on April 25, 2003.

Duplex/doppler ultrasound exam of extremity, vascular ultrasound. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ . Accessed May 1, 2003.

Emedicine website. Available at: http://www.emedicine.com . Accessed April 24, 2003.

Microsuregon.org website. Available at http://www.microsurgeon.org/duplex_ultrasound.htm . Accessed April 25, 2003.

Last reviewed November 2007 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Your Health and Happiness