When patients first come to see us at Vein Clinics of Hawaii and schedule a venous health screening with our Hawaii vein specialist, sometimes they are hesitant when we tell them that we’re going to use ultrasound to look beneath the skin of their legs to look for signs of vein disease. To them the word “ultrasound” sounds vaguely science-fictiony, and somewhere in the back of their minds they remember that other technologies that allow doctors to visualize the inside of our bodies (like X-ray) can actually sometimes be harmful. To ease the fears that you might have about such things, in this article we’ll explain what ultrasound is and why it’s so safe.
What exactly IS ultrasound?
Ultrasound – also known as ultrasonic imaging or medical ultrasonography – can be said to represent one of the most important advances ever in medical imaging technology. It’s called “ultrasound” because its ability to “see through” objects comes from its use of oscillating sound waves that are too high in frequency to be heard by the human ear. The result of an ultrasound – called sonograms – are created using a small, portable transducer. A transducer looks a little like a TV remote, but it actually sends pulses of high-frequency sound through the skin and then records the echoes these sounds make as they bounce off of bone, tissue, blood vessels, and internal organs. The echoes are then converted inside a computer into two-dimensional images that provide a “map” of these internal structures.
What are the advantages of ultrasound?
There are many reasons why the use of ultrasound has become so widespread in such a short amount of time. First, modern ultrasound equipment is so portable and lightweight that it can be transported almost anywhere, and can be used even in the field by emergency teams. Second, ultrasound provides images in “real time,” avoiding the delays that used to be common when working with X-rays and film. Third, unlike magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CAT scans, ultrasound is relatively inexpensive, and can be used in individual doctors’ offices, not just in hospitals with a big budget. And fourth and most important, ultrasound is safe and doesn’t use ionizing radiation the way that X-rays do.
Standard ultrasound shows our Hawaii vein specialist the inner structures of your body, while Doppler ultrasound is more useful for visualizing motion
Normal, “2-D” ultrasound creates a kind of map of the internal structures of your body, represented as two-dimensional, black, white, and gray-scale images of the areas being scanned. This type of ultrasound is useful for detecting structural abnormalities or blood clots that may be blocking deep arteries. To see the blood actually flowing through your veins, however, varicose vein treatment specialists in Honolulu or Maui use Doppler ultrasound, which can add color to the gray-scale images and uses the Doppler Effect to detect motion inside the body. Thus vein doctors can use it to actually see blood as it flows through your veins, and to detect abnormalities such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which causes blood to flow backwards into your veins and makes them become varicose.
So don’t worry – ultrasound is safe, and the best way to detect vein disease
Ultrasound is a very powerful tool that allows us in our vein practice on Maui and Kauai to painlessly and quickly detect vein diseases. Using ultrasound, we can diagnose diseases in a few minutes that we would have had to perform invasive surgery to detect only a few years ago. And then, when it comes to treating these diseases, this same ultrasound allows us to gently guide tiny needles into place in the diseased veins to treat them, again something that would have required hospitals, invasive surgery, and general anesthesia only a decade ago.
Ultrasound is a good thing. It’s one of the tools we rely on to provide the highest levels of care to our patients leading Hawaii vein specialist at one of the best vein treatment centers in Maui. So when you give us a call or go online and make an appointment for your own venous health screening, you should feel happy that we’ll be using ultrasound. It’s one of the best tools we know of to help keep your veins healthy.