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What is an arterial leg Doppler exam?

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Quick Answer

An arterial leg Doppler exam is a test that looks at the large veins and arteries in the legs and arms, according to MedlinePlus. This test typically takes place in the radiology department or peripheral vascular lab.

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The arterial leg Doppler exam is painless, though some patients may feel discomfort if there is a blood clot, explains MedlinePlus. To perform the exam, the doctor places a water-soluble gel on a transducer device, which directs sound waves to the veins or arteries. A doctor may place blood pressure cuffs on different parts of the body during the test, including the calf, thigh, ankle or arms.

In most cases, a doctor uses an arterial leg Doppler exam to diagnose blood clots, arteriosclerosis of the legs or arms and venous insufficiency, states MedlinePlus. The doctor may also perform the test to look at injuries to the arteries or to monitor reconstruction of the arteries or bypass grafts.

A normal result following the blood test means there is no sign of clots, narrow arteries or closure to restrict blood flow, claims MedlinePlus. Reasons a person may have an abnormal result from the arterial leg Doppler exam include blockage of the artery, a blood clot, or the widening or narrowing of an artery. Other reasons a result may be abnormal are due to contractions of the arteries due to cold or emotion or due to the closing of a vein.

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