What is a duplex ultrasound?

A duplex ultrasound combines two types of ultrasounds to produce images that show how blood is moving through your arteries and veins. Your physician is able to see the speed and direction of your blood flow and where your blood flow may be blocked. The ultrasounds used during this procedure are: 

  • Traditional ultrasound – high-frequency sound waves create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs
  • Doppler ultrasound – high-frequency sound waves determine the speed and direction of blood flow in the veins and arteries

A duplex ultrasound is used to diagnose conditions that affect your blood vessels, including: 

Duplex ultrasound procedures include: 

  • Renal duplex (examines blood flow in the kidneys and intestine) 
  • Mesenteric duplex (examines blood flow to the liver, spleen, stomach and intestine) 
  • Carotid duplex (examines blood flow to the brain through the carotid arteries) 
  • Duplex ultrasound of the arms and legs (examines blood flow through the arms and legs) 

Why choose Ohio State for a duplex ultrasound?

Ohio State’s Vascular Lab is an ICAVL (Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories) accredited lab with very experienced vascular sonographers.  

At Ohio State, more advanced vascular ultrasound testing is available to patients. In addition to standard carotid duplex and venous duplex testing, here we do arterial duplex imaging, visceral duplex, aortic duplex and aortic duplex after endovascular aneurysm repair—services that are not generally available except at larger, more academic-oriented vascular labs.  

What to expect during a duplex ultrasound

Preparing for your procedure  

Generally, there are no special instructions that you need to follow before a duplex ultrasound. However, if you are receiving an abdominal ultrasound, you may be asked not to eat or drink after midnight on the night before your test.  

During your procedure  

A duplex ultrasound is performed in one of our Vascular Laboratories. You will be asked to lie still on a table. The technician will apply a gel to the area of your body being examined. A transducer (ultrasound probe) is moved gently over the area being examined. This test takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.  

After your procedure  

There are no special instructions to follow after a duplex ultrasound. You can immediately resume all of your normal activities.  


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