Helping your blood vessels go with flow

GOOD CIRCULATION: Vascular ultrasound  is used to assess blood flow to the brain and the body’s organs and extremities.
GOOD CIRCULATION: Vascular ultrasound is used to assess blood flow to the brain and the body’s organs and extremities.

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Vascular ultrasound is a specialised application of ultrasound looking specifically at blood vessels – arteries and veins, and blood flow.

Your doctor may send you for a vascular ultrasound on your arteries or veins if they suspect you have a blockage: for example, if you are experiencing pain in the legs with walking or exercise – a condition known as intermittent claudication.

Other common examples include evaluation of suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or of extra-cranial carotid disease in someone with a minor stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

 “Vascular ultrasound is used to assess varicose veins, vascular malformations, aneurysms or unusual anatomy,”  Dr Mathew Sebastian, from Vascular HealthCare said. “It helps the vascular surgeon or physician to plan treatments, and is of significant use in assessing the outcome of interventional procedures. Many modern varicose vein treatments are performed under ultrasound guidance.”

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Ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure with no radiation, making it the safest of all imaging techniques.

It is also relatively inexpensive compared to CT scan and MRI, and can be repeated multiple times without any detriment to the patient i.e. no radiation or contrast (the ‘dye’ used to delineate vessels).

“There are no needles or dyes used to obtain your results, and there are no harmful side effects,” Dr Sebastian said. “Once your clothing is loosened or removed, a gel is applied to your skin and a probe (transducer) is moved along your skin, over the blood vessels being examined.  You may hear some unusual sounds from the Doppler during your examination but this is quite normal and is an indication of blood flow.”

Vascular ultrasound scans can be time consuming because they involve the detailed collection of blood flow information from many locations along the course of the blood vessels, depending on what your doctor has asked   to check. This is essential for the most accurate results.

“Our experienced vascular sonographers at Vascular HealthCare do not take ‘short cuts’ in order to finish your test as quickly as possible,” Dr Sebastian said.  “They adhere to specific, Medicare-recognised protocols that ensure no abnormalities are missed so that your results are as comprehensive as possible. Examinations typically take 30 -90 minutes, depending upon the test your Dr has requested.

The quality of an ultrasound examination is heavily dependent on the ability of the sonographer performing the test and the only way to maintain the high standards of all examinations is to have regular audit of scans by the end-users, the clinicians.

“All the sonographers at Vascular HealthCare are dedicated vascular sonographers and liaise regularly with the vascular surgeons in the practice discussing patient results and carrying out audits – a comparison of the ultrasound findings with what the doctor finds when they perform an angiogram,” Dr Sebastian said.  

“This audit process ensures accuracy of scans performed at Vascular Health Care.”

Vascular HealthCare is a specialist medical practice treating arteries, veins and circulation disorders in the Newcastle and Hunter regions of New South Wales.

It comprises the surgical services of Drs Mathew Sebastian and Nicole Organ, and phlebologist Dr Naomi Hunter from The Hunter Vein Clinic. The ultrasound team is lead by senior sonographers Richard Rounsley and Kylie Burnley, who are excellently supported by sonographers David Wroblewski and Shannon Taylor.  

“Our patients are typically older, over the age of 50, and are typically affected by atherosclerosis, or plaque, in the arteries,” Dr Sebastian said. “We do perform many examinations for varicose veins and other arterial disorders, which generally affect younger people.”

Vascular HealthCare has four locations  conveniently located across Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, at Gateshead, East Maitland, Merewether and Toronto.

Doctors consult at all these sites and all sites have wheelchair access with free on-site or street parking.

Bulk Billing is available and all ultrasound referrals are accepted. Appointments can be made by phoning 1300 664 227, email info@vascularhealthcare.com.au or by using the contact form at www.vascularhealthcare.com.au.