Peripheral artery disease, also referred to as PAD, in the lower extremities can cause a lot of discomfort. Pain or cramping most likely occurs during periods of activity, even if you are doing something as simple as walking. For some individuals, this pain can occur even during periods of rest. Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease in the lower extremities might include discoloration of the skin or ulcers. While pain and discomfort generally tends to go away after a few minutes of rest, PAD should be properly diagnosed so that effective treatment may begin to prevent worsening of the situation.
What causes peripheral artery disease?
When cholesterol and other substances in the blood begin to stick to the inner walls of your blood vessels, this leads to a narrowing of the arteries. This decreases the amount of blood that can pass through the artery, keeping your legs from getting the necessary blood flow during activity. Although fatty buildup inside of blood vessels is the most common cause of this disease, it may also occur due to injury or inflammation.
Why you should see a radiologist for proper diagnosis of PAD
If you have symptoms that are associated with lower extremity peripheral arterial disease, your health care provider can only do an examination from the outside of your body. Your physician can determine if you may have some narrowing or blockage by checking your pulse and the blood pressure in your feet. If you have a weakened pulse or the ankle-brachial index shows that there might be a problem, you will most likely be referred for a radiology examination to get a more detailed and definitive look at what is going on within the blood vessels. Left untreated, PAD may result in the loss of a leg or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Radiology tests that are commonly used to detect PAD
Some non-invasive imaging tests might include the use of an ultrasound, CT angiogram, or an MR angiogram.
Why arterial Doppler ultrasound may be preferred:
As you may already know, ultrasounds use harmless sound waves to get a good picture of what is going on inside of the body. Ultrasound is non-invasive and does not require the use of radiation. There are several different types of ultrasound, but arterial Doppler ultrasound might be more beneficial in the diagnosis of peripheral artery disease in the lower extremities.
Arterial Doppler ultrasound for evaluation of lower extremity peripheral arterial disease
Our radiologist can listen to the sound waves as they are bounced off of red blood cells to determine the rate of the flow of blood along areas of the arteries. Additionally, an arterial Doppler ultrasound can create a graph of the arteries that shows speed and direction of blood flow. These graphs can even show the presence of plaque as well as the shape and size of the buildup. The information provided by the radiologist will give your physician an idea on the best course of treatment. Contact The Radiology Clinic in Rockville, Maryland, today for an arterial Doppler ultrasound of the lower extremities performed by specialty trained registered vascular technologists (RVTs) and interpreted by fellowship trained board certified radiologists with many years of experience and expertise.