Open Accessibility Menu

Lower Extremity Arterial Ultrasound

A lower extremity arterial ultrasound is used to look at the blood flow at different segments of your legs. Normally blood pressure is similar whether it is measured in the legs or arms. If blood pressure is lower in the legs, it usually means that cholesterol buildup inside the leg arteries is interfering with circulation. By taking accurate blood pressure measurements at different locations along your legs, your doctors can determine if you have any arterial narrowing.

What to Bring

  • Your provider order (Your provider may have already sent this to us.)
  • Personal ID
  • Insurance card(s)

How to Prepare

  • You do not have to do anything special to prepare for a lower extremity arterial ultrasound.
  • You may want to wear shorts for this exam, and your feet should be bare during the test. If you are not wearing shorts, you may have to change into a hospital gown.
  • If you have a history of surgery on your legs or arms (e.g., stents, grafts), you should inform the technologist.
  • If you have had a recent diagnosis of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot, you should inform the technologist.
  • No risks are associated with a lower extremity arterial ultrasound. Unlike an X-ray, radiation is not involved with this test.

What to Expect

  • You lie on a table, and a technologist wraps blood pressure cuffs around both legs in three sections (including the thigh, calf and ankle), both big toes and upper arms. They then place some clear jelly onto your skin to help the Doppler sensor, which resembles a wand or pen, slide around easily and to help conduct sound waves through your skin.
  • Each cuff is inflated to exert pressure on your leg. This temporarily cuts off circulation in the leg. Many patients briefly experience some cramping pain in the calf or thigh (similar to the sensation you experience when a blood pressure cuff is inflated around your arm). As the cuff is deflated, the technologist places a Doppler sensor against your foot to detect the moment when blood flow starts up again. When it does, you will hear a noise that sounds like your heartbeat. Checking the air pressure of the deflating cuff shows the leg's blood pressure.
  • After all the cuffs on one side have been tested, the other leg is checked in the same manner. For comparison, you also have your blood pressure checked in each arm using the Doppler technique.
  • Please allow 45 minutes from the time you check in to the completion of the test.

Getting the Results

A radiologist (a physician who is specially trained in reading and interpreting diagnostic and ultrasound images) will interpret the ultrasound results and send the information to your medical provider.

Schedule an Appointment

Call North Oaks Scheduling between 7 am and 5:30 pm.
Hammond: (985) 230-7777
Livingston: (225) 686-4899

If you are a medical provider and need to send an order, please fax it to (985) 230-6781.