Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) enables healthcare providers to assess blood vessels from the inside. It uses sound waves to check for narrowing and blockages that can compromise blood flow. IVUS is a minimally invasive procedure involving tiny instruments and sophisticated technology for evaluations that are gentler on your body.
Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) uses sound waves to assess soft tissue. Tiny instruments capture real-time images from inside your blood vessels. Intravascular ultrasound often evaluates arteries and veins near the heart (coronary arteries). It can also test other blood vessels.
The procedure is also known as:
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IVUS uses a tiny tube (catheter) to access and evaluate blood vessel tissue. A healthcare provider advances the catheter through an incision, typically in the groin, to reach the assessment area.
The catheter has an ultrasound probe at the tip that emits high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves bounce off blood vessel walls, creating echoes. A computer converts the sound waves into real-time images.
You may benefit from IVUS if healthcare providers suspect blood vessel narrowing or blockages. The procedure can help you manage life-threatening conditions that include:
IVUS helps healthcare providers:
Your healthcare provider may recommend IVUS if you have symptoms of or are at risk for:
Angiography also captures images from inside the blood vessels. It uses X-rays to create two-dimensional silhouettes of the coronary arteries. IVUS uses sound waves and produces cross-sectional images like slices of bread.
If your healthcare provider is assessing coronary arteries, IVUS is typically performed as part of cardiac catheterization. This procedure uses a catheter to test heart function. Combining the two tests makes it possible to check additional aspects of heart health in one procedure.
If the assessment area is not near your heart, intravascular ultrasound is a standalone procedure. It’s often used to check for blood clots in veins and PAD in lower leg arteries.
An interventional cardiologist or vascular surgeon performs this procedure.
Here’s what happens during the procedure:
This test provides results in real-time. However, your healthcare provider typically waits until after the procedure to discuss them with you. You may receive this information while in the recovery room after the sedative wears off.
If you have standalone IVUS, you will likely go home the same day. For a coronary intravascular ultrasound, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
IVUS enables healthcare providers to detect blood vessel narrowing and blockages in a timely manner.
Additional benefits include:
As with any procedure, intravascular ultrasound comes with some risks. They include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
IVUS is a procedure that uses sound waves to perform comprehensive blood vessel assessments. You may benefit from this type of test if you have or are at risk for blood vessel narrowing or blockages. The procedure helps healthcare providers pinpoint potential problem areas and determine their severity. This information can lower your risk of a life-threatening complication.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/12/2022.
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