October is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month! Did you know that cardiology utilizes the power of ultrasound waves to visually monitor heart health? Ultrasound technology is an essential method for catching blood flow irregularities; organ changes; blood clots; and damage in the heart, veins, and other vital organs. Using ultrasound waves (or sonography) and a transducer, a sonographer can see within the patient’s body without painful, invasive means. These images allow your specialist to study the arteries and determine any health concerns. Here are the six types of ultrasound treatments we use at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South and how they can benefit our patients.
1. Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound
The aorta transports blood from the heart throughout the rest of your body. High blood pressure, hardened arteries, trauma, and other issues can cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This occurs when the aorta becomes enlarged, leading to deep pain in the back or abdomen. An abdominal aorta ultrasound detects aneurysms and blockages in the aorta, near the diaphragm. Your doctor will then determine the best ways to prevent your aneurysm from rupturing. And, depending on the aneurysm’s size, they may recommend surgery.
2. Arterial Ultrasound
Using ultrasound imaging, a sonographer views the arteries in your arms and legs. They will observe the speed of blood flow and search for any blockages in your arteries. Arterial ultrasounds can also identify areas where the arteries are narrowing. If your doctor notices blood clots or damage in your veins, he can assess your condition and determine the best methods of treatment to prevent further damage or health risks.
3. Carotid Ultrasound
Your carotid arteries are located on the sides of your head and neck. These pump blood to your brain. When these arteries become blocked with plaque, patients develop carotid artery disease. This leaves them at greater risk of suffering a stroke. This may occur as a smaller scale stroke called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Or, a blocked blood vessel may prevent blood flow to the brain, leading to an ischemic stroke. With a carotid duplex ultrasound, your specialist can see blockages in these arteries and then quickly determine a plan of treatment.
With the use of ultrasound waves, cardiologists can view a picture of the patient’s heart. This helps uncover any structural abnormalities or irregularities in its beating pattern. While the size of one’s heart often correlates with the size of their body, some differentiation in size can occur. For example, an enlarged or thickened heart can indicate hypertrophy. Thanks to this ultrasound imaging, cardiologists can more quickly identify areas of damage.
5. Renal Artery Ultrasound
The renal arteries supply blood and oxygen from the aorta to the kidneys. When this flow is blocked or constricted, the kidneys are unable to receive the necessary nutrients for healthy function. A renal artery ultrasound uses Doppler technology to see through various thicknesses of tissue. This ultrasound allows your physician to notice any signs of renal artery stenosis, or obstruction of the kidneys that prevents proper waste elimination. Or if the renal artery is narrow, the patient is at higher risk of kidney failure or high blood pressure. With detailed imaging, patients can determine the right level of preventative measures or medical intervention needed to protect their kidney health.
6. Venous Ultrasound
In cardiology, this form of ultrasound is used to view how easily blood flows through the veins. Your sonographer will observe any signs of blood clots as well as the direction of blood flow. This is especially effective for diagnosing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and establishing preventative measures against pulmonary embolism. For patients with varicose veins, a venous ultrasound can help distinguish damaged valves. Or if a patient needs a catheter placed into a vein, this can help to guide the needle.
Schedule an Appointment for a Cardiology Ultrasound Today!
Cardiology uses many forms of advanced technology for patient care, including ultrasound for diagnostic testing. At Cardiovascular Institute of the South, our physicians are dedicated to providing you with the highest-quality care. And with multiple clinic locations, you can find the closest and most convenient services for your needs. Contact your closest clinic or request an appointment online. Let us help you promote greater heart health, prevent damage and illness, and learn more about how you can live a healthy lifestyle!