The use of colour duplex ultrasound (CDU) is today synonymous with the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease. Vascular CDU is a highly specialised and very commonly performed procedure and the information that it provides makes it possible to "see and "hear blood flowing through specific areas to assess them for narrowing, obstruction or enlargement.
Today almost all patients suspected of having a vascular problem require a CDU examination to determine the cause, site and extent of their condition. In experienced hands the refinement of CDU techniques and technological advancements have resulted in a versatile and extremely accurate diagnostic tool. There have been no reported side-effects in over 40 years of use and its widespread application has meant that previously routine invasive procedures with known side-effects and complications are often no longer required. The extensive use of CDU has streamlined the assessment and treatment of vascular disease making it safer and simpler for patients, less time consuming and more economical.
A small probe placed on the skin over a special gel transmits multiple high frequency beams of sound which come into contact with various body tissues including organs, blood vessels and moving red blood cells. The body absorbs or deflects some of these soundwaves whilst others are reflected back into the probe. Computer software converts them into a black and white image, a colour-coded visual representation of moving blood, a graph of the velocities of individual red blood cells, or an audible signal which represents the flow of blood.
Ultrasound is also used immediately preceding operative intervention to plan the procedure and guide the surgeon and to assess the results of treatment. In the long term CDU helps to determine whether there is any recurrence of disease or new problems.