Deep Vein Thrombosis

Why am I having this ultrasound examination?

The deep venous thrombosis examination is a noninvasive method of assessing the deep veins in one or both of your legs/arms for thrombosis (clot). Your doctor has requested this because you may have one or more of the following presentations:

  • gradual or sudden onset of pain in the calf or arm
  • unexplained swelling in the leg(s) or the arm(s)
  • a recent long journey (plane, train or car)
  • a prolonged period of inactivity, such as a stay in hospital or a recent surgical procedure
  • a previous thrombosis
  • a known blood clotting disorder or a known malignancy

What veins will be checked in this examination?

  • Femoral Vein
  • Popliteal Vein
  • Peroneal Veins
  • Posterior Tibial Veins
  • Great Saphenous Vein
  • Innominate Vein
  • Subclavian Vein
  • Cephalic Vein
  • Axillary Vein
  • Brachial Veins
  • Basilic Vein
  • Radial Veins
  • Ulnar Veins

What happens during the examination?

Usually, no dietary preparation is required. The ultrasound scan for lower limb deep vein thrombosis is performed with you lying on an examination couch, so you should be quite comfortable. In order for the sonographer to easily access the lower limb veins, you will be asked to remove your footwear, and the outer clothing from your waist down. It is helpful if you do not wear tight underclothing, such as ‘step-ins’, or long legged underpants, like boxer shorts. The sonographer will ask you to turn a little on your side, to expose the inner part of the leg being examined, and he or she will then place some gel on your skin. During this examination, the sonographer must compress your deep veins, to make sure there is no clot inside the vein. This involves a firm pressure, and as most people undergoing this scan have a painful leg, you may experience some discomfort. While it is imperative to compress the deep veins in order to exclude a thrombosis, please be assured that the sonographer will make every effort to cause you as little pain as possible, while still achieving an accurate diagnostic result. If you do have any questions or concerns, please ask at any time throughout the test.

The ultrasound scan for upper limb deep vein thrombosis is also performed with you lying on an examination couch, however you will be asked to remove the outer clothing from the waist up. Gel will be placed along your neck, shoulder and arm, over the blood vessels being examined, and firm compressions to the veins will be applied via the transducer.

How long will the examination take?

The deep vein thrombosis examination may take up to 30 minutes per limb. Should the sonographer need to check the deep veins in your abdomen, he or she will explain this to you as necessary.

When will I get my results?

The sonographer does not normally give you your results at the time of your examination, however, as the results of this particular test are usually required urgently, your result will be rung through, often while you are still with us, so that we can ascertain your doctor’s instructions. A positive deep vein thrombosis result is a serious finding that usually requires immediate medical attention, and every effort will be made to facilitate the most appropriate subsequent care. Should your scan findings be negative, your doctor will still be informed immediately, and the results will be returned within 24 hours.

Download the Patient Information Brochure