In the United Kingdom, one in three adults will have developed varicose veins within their lifetime. However, thanks to modern medical advances, of which there are several, there is a range of options available to varicose vein sufferers. These vein treatment methods are known as ‘minimally invasive’, which makes them very easy to carry out and recover from.
When deciding on the most suitable treatment option, patients at Centre for Surgery will undergo an ultrasound scan – specifically a ‘duplex ultrasound scan’. This gives our clinicians the unique ability to diagnose any vein abnormalities in great detail.
What is a duplex ultrasound scan?
A Duplex Ultrasound scan involves using high-frequency sound waves to look at the speed of blood flow, and the structure of the veins in the legs. The term “duplex” refers to the fact that two modes of ultrasound are used: Doppler and B-mode. The B-mode transducer (it can be thought of as being like a microphone) obtains an image of the vessel being studied.
A Duplex scan gives clinicians and surgeons a much more comprehensive and detailed look at how the blood is flowing through varicose veins in a given patient.
How does a Duplex Ultrasound scan work at Centre for Surgery?
A Duplex Ultrasound scan for varicose veins creates images on the clinician’s screen that show just how the patient’s blood is moving their arteries and veins. This happens by using a deep vein scanning system – the system is completely portable and looks a little like a laptop.
Comparing varicose veins with healthy veins
The innovative device provides everything that our clinicians and surgeons will need to assess a patient’s veins. There is a three-step process to the Duplex Ultrasound scan that we carry out here at Centre for Surgery, in central London:
Greyscale Ultrasound scan
The first step involves building a greyscale image that displays, in real-time, the structure of veins. This scan looks very much like the type of scan used during a pregnancy ultrasound. The Duplex device next overlays the produced sound waves and colours over the original greyscale image. This reveals just how blood moves through veins.
Doppler Ultrasound scan
The ‘Doppler wave’ technology that is used by the device assists the clinician to identify issues with blood flow within veins, using sound waves. Doppler Ultrasound waves produce a sound that is inaudible to the human ear but allows the surgeon to ‘see’ where blood is not flowing correctly through the veins.
When ultrasound waves ‘bounce back’ off moving objects, which includes blood flow, the frequency of the wave is slightly altered. These alterations are what the Doppler picks up as signals. These signals are processed, amplified and displayed to our consultants here at Centre for Surgery as an image.
Colour-flow Duplex scans
The third step involves a colour-flow Duplex scan. This is an enhanced form of Doppler ultrasound technology. the device overlays a series of colours that shows precisely where any blood issues are occurring. Areas that come up coloured blue are areas where the blood is flowing through the veins as it should. However, where the colour is red, this is an indication that blood flow in those areas is abnormal.
These colour signals, combined, provide an extremely detailed picture of blood flow restrictions and abnormalities. In addition to this, it also shows where there are faulty valves within the veins. Being able to identify the nature of these problems, and their location, the clinician can recommend the best treatment to tackle the symptoms and causes of varicose veins.
What is the procedure for the Venous Duplex Ultrasound scan?
When you come to Centre for Surgery in London, your personal consultant vascular specialist is going to perform the scan. This gives them a first-hand impression of the issues within your veins. The scan is completely non-invasive and painless – all ultrasound scans operate above the range of human hearing, but they are perfect for imaging.
The process takes around 30 to 45 minutes, on average. During this session, your consultant is going to apply a water-based gel to the affected area. Your consultant will then scan this area with a probe.
Next, your consultant will assess your blood flow by very gently squeezing your muscles at different intervals. This encourages blood flow into the veins. At this point, your consultant is going to be able to see just where the blood is not able to flow normally.
When your consultant stops squeezing, they will also be able to see if any blood flows back down the leg. If it does, this means valves are failing to close properly. Faulty valves lead to venous reflux, and this process is responsible for the large majority of varicose vein development.
What happens following your Duplex Ultrasound scan?
Upon completion of your scan, your varicose vein clinician is going to have an incredibly accurate picture of any abnormal valves and blood flow issues. This then allows the surgeon to plan the varicose vein treatment, with a completely accurate overview, treatment using the highly detailed data obtained from the initial scan.
The treatment of varicose veins
The patient is then advised on the best course of treatment for the varicose veins and faulty valves. The gold standard treatment for varicose veins is EVLA also known as endovenous laser ablation.
What are the benefits of Duplex Ultrasound scanning for varicose veins?
Duplex Ultrasound scanning is widely regarded as being the best first step in varicose vein treatment. This is because it gives clinicians and surgeons the best possible insight into the patient’s vein and valve issues.
The Duplex Ultrasound scan is also used across many other parts of the body, such as lower limbs and extremities like the pelvis, as well as the torso and arms.
Book a varicose veins ultrasound at Centre for Surgery in London
Booking a consultation at Centre for Surgery is very straightforward. You can head to our contact page and fill out the relevant fields. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can always give us a call on 0207 993 4849. We are also really easy to find, in the heart of London, at 106 Crawford St, London W1H 2HY. We look forward to hearing from you.