Non-invasive vascular imaging

  • Duplex (Doppler ultrasound) scan in progress

In the early days of vascular surgery it was difficult to obtain accurate pictures of blood vessels before operating. The main technique used was angiography where needles and catheters (fine tubes) had to be inserted into the blood vessels and dye injected to make them show up on X-ray. These techniques have now been replaced by non-invasive methods which allow very accurate images to be obtained without inserting needles into arteries.

What is Non-invasive vascular imaging?

There are three main types of non-invasive vascular imaging:


Duplex scanning


Duplex scanning is a combination of doppler and ultrasound.  It gives details of the size and shape of a blood vessel, and measures how fast blood is moving through it.  It is usually performed in the vascular clinic.  The scanner moves over the skin lubricated with jelly and is painless.  Simple scans take about 5 minutes.  More detailed scans (e.g. of arteries in the legs) take up to an hour.  Duplex scanning is a highly specialised process and requires highly skilled vascular scientists to produce accurate images.


CT scanning


CT scanning in its early forms produced cross-sectional pictures of the body.  Modern CT scanners are very fast and can take multiple pictures in a few seconds.  These can then be reconstructed using software to produce three dimensional images of blood vessels.  This is invaluable when planning procedures to repair abnormal blood vessels.


Magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography

MRI and MRA are other ways of obtaining detailed pictures of internal organs and blood vessels.  They are especially good for imaging the brain and arteries supplying the brain. MRI can be used to image any part of the body.  It is especially useful in the assessment of vascular malformations as described in the Conditions Treated, Prevented and Cured section of the website.


How does it work?

None of these scans treat vascular problems but help our consultants identify the best treatment option for you. 

Are there any risks I should be aware of?

There are no risks or side effects associated with Non-invasive vascular imaging.

What is it used for?

What should I do next?

For more information or to make an appointment with The London Vascular Clinic contact us.

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