The vascular laboratory is the site of a variety of non-invasive tests used to measure blood flow to help diagnose vascular conditions such as peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD). The Peripheral Artery Disease Program offers specialized care to meet the individual needs of our patients. Medical College of Wisconsin physicians are highly skilled and experienced in performing state-of-the-art procedures to diagnose and treat all types of vascular problems, including complex cases.

Vascular Lab Tests Measure Blood Flow

Some of the more common tests patients experience in the vascular lab include:

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

An ABI is a simple, non-invasive, painless test that compares blood pressure readings in a person’s ankles with blood pressure readings in the arms. This involves placing a blood pressure monitor at the ankle and on the arm while a patient is at rest. The test can also be performed after walking on a treadmill to reproduce painful symptoms associated with walking (intermittent claudication). If a blockage is present, imaging (ultrasound or angiography) can be used to pinpoint the specific artery that is blocked.

Carotid Duplex Scan

This non-invasive vascular ultrasound test assesses the blood flow of the arteries that supply blood from the heart through the neck to the brain. “Duplex” refers to the fact that two modes of ultrasound are used – Doppler and B-mode. The B-mode transducer (like a microphone) obtains an image of the carotid artery being studied. The Doppler probe within the transducer evaluates the velocity and direction of blood flow in the vessel.

Extremity Arterial Mapping

Arterial mapping of the extremities uses non-invasive duplex ultrasound technology to examine blood flow in the arteries in the arms and legs. Lower extremity arterial mapping can help determine which blood vessels would be the best candidates for a bypass graft.

Treadmill Stress Test

This test is given while a patient walks on a treadmill to assess the heart during exercise.

Venous Duplex Ultrasound

Duplex ultrasound is a procedure that combines Doppler (high-frequency sound waves) flow and conventional ultrasound imaging to allow physicians to see the structure of blood vessels. Duplex ultrasound shows how blood is flowing through the vessels and measures the speed of the flow of blood. It can also estimate the diameter of a blood vessel and the amount and location of obstruction (if any) in a blood vessel. Aortoiliac duplex scanning helps evaluate abdominal aneurysm and other conditions.

Learn more about other heart and vascular diagnostic tests we offer.