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A duplex ultrasound is a test to see how blood moves through your arteries and veins.

The test combines traditional ultrasound with Doppler ultrasonography. Regular ultrasound uses sound waves that bounce off blood vessels to create pictures. Doppler ultrasound records sound waves reflecting off moving objects, such as blood, to measure their speed and other aspects of how they flow.

There are different types of duplex ultrasound exams. Some include:
  • Arterial and venous duplex ultrasound of the abdomen examines blood vessels and blood flow in the abdominal area
  • Carotid duplex ultrasound looks at the carotid artery in the neck
  • Duplex ultrasound of the extremities looks at the arms or legs
  • Renal duplex ultrasound examines the kidneys and their blood vessels
The test is done in the ultrasound or radiology department.

A wand, called a transducer, is moved over the area being tested. This wand sends out the sound waves.

A computer measures how the sound waves reflect back, and changes the sound waves into pictures. The Doppler creates a "swishing" sound, which is the sound of your blood moving through the arteries and veins.