Arterial & Venous Mapping

Vein mapping uses ultrasound imaging to see inside your blood vessels. This test uses the images to create a map of your arteries and veins and any blockages in them. Your provider may order a vein mapping test before medical procedures or to check for health conditions that affect your blood vessels.


What is arterial and venous mapping?

Arterial and venous mapping, commonly called vein mapping, is an ultrasound test that takes pictures of your arteries and veins (blood vessels). This test creates a “map” of your blood vessels that can be used to help guide some medical procedures or to check for certain health conditions.


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Why would I need arterial and venous mapping?

Vein mapping is also called a duplex study or vascular ultrasound. You may need vein mapping before you have certain medical procedures, including:

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery: In bypass surgery, a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body is used to reroute blood flow around blocked arteries. Your provider may use vein mapping before the procedure to find the right blood vessel to use.
  • Dialysis: This is a treatment for kidney failure. Before you begin dialysis, your provider connects an artery and a vein in your arm and uses them to deliver your treatment. Vein mapping allows your provider to find the artery and vein that will work best for dialysis.
  • Peripheral vascular bypass surgery: This surgery treats peripheral artery disease (PAD). Your surgeon reroutes blood flow around the blocked artery in your arm or leg. Prior to surgery, vein mapping is a way to find a healthy artery to replace the blocked one.

This test can also help diagnose conditions that affect your blood vessels, including:

Who performs vein mapping?

A specially trained ultrasound technologist performs this test and collects the images. Then, a vascular physician reviews the images and interprets your results.


Test Details

How does vein mapping work?

Ultrasound tests send high-frequency sound waves through the tissues in your body. The ultrasound machine records the sound echoes and transforms them into videos or photos of body tissues and fluids.

During vein mapping, sound waves are transmitted through an area of blood vessels in your body. These sound waves reflect off blood cells moving within your blood vessels. The machine records the speed of your blood flow and displays it on a computer screen.

How do I prepare for arterial and venous mapping?

There is no special preparation for this test. You can eat and drink as you normally would. You will change into a hospital gown and remove any jewelry before your test, so leave jewelry at home, if possible. Usually, your provider performs vein mapping at an imaging center inside a hospital or health center.


How long does vein mapping take?

This test usually takes 30 to 90 minutes.

What should I expect during vein mapping?

During this test:

  1. You lie down on a padded exam table.
  2. Your technologist applies a small amount of water-soluble gel to your skin where they will perform the test. The gel does not harm your skin or stain your clothes.
  3. Your technologist places a small device called a transducer over the gel-coated area. The transducer produces images on the ultrasound screen. Your technologist holds the transducer in place until they record all the information needed.
  4. If you have a procedure scheduled, your technologist may use a pen to mark certain locations on your skin. Do not wash these markings off before your procedure. Your provider may give you a pen to darken the marks if they fade after you take a shower or bath.

What happens after vein mapping?

After your test, your technologist will wipe the gel off your skin and you can get dressed. You usually go home or to work as normal. If you have an urgent health need, your provider may see you right away to discuss your results.

What are the risks of arterial and venous mapping?

There are no harmful side effects of vein mapping. This imaging test is noninvasive and painless, so there are no needles, dyes, anesthesia or incisions. Ultrasound does not use radiation like some other imaging tests.

Results and Follow-Up

When will I know the results of vein mapping?

A vascular medicine physician reviews your images and sends your results to your healthcare provider. Your provider will explain the results to you. Usually, you can expect your results within a few days.

Providers sometimes use arterial and venous mapping to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions in an emergency. If your provider suspects an urgent concern, you will get your results right away.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Arterial and venous mapping is a painless, noninvasive way to get images of your blood vessels and assess your blood flow. The test doesn’t require special prep or downtime afterward. This test can help diagnose potentially serious conditions like PAD or DVT. Vein mapping is also a valuable tool before you have bypass surgery or begin dialysis. Talk with your provider if you have questions about your test and what it means for your health.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/25/2022.

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