Diagnostics & Testing

Non-invasive Testing for Vascular Disease

Cleveland Clinic's accredited Vascular Laboratory performs non-invasive studies such as ultrasounds, segmental pressures and pulse volume recordings to detect vascular disease. Ultrasound is the most important tool in the vascular laboratory. Large ultrasound machines are used to take pictures of blood vessels and blood flow in these vessels with color Doppler and pulsed Doppler. Segmental pressures and pulse volume recordings are other important tools used in a vascular laboratory. These tests are performed to locate the area of blockage in the arms and legs.

After a physician’s physical examination, testing in a vascular laboratory is often the first step in diagnosing vascular disease. Specific tests that will be done will depend on the patient’s symptoms and the suspected vascular problems. Diagnosing vascular disease begins by taking a careful medical history, including risk factors and a  physical exam (including symptoms, temperature of the skin, appearance of limbs and blood vessels, and presence or absence of pulses).

From this information, the physician decides if further testing is needed. Testing is performed by a vascular technologist/sonographer. Non-invasive testing utilizes various types of technology to evaluate flow, perfusion and pressures within the vessels at rest and with exercise. These procedures are generally painless and can help to determine if blood vessel disease is present, the location, and severity. Once a test is completed, the images are sent to a physician for review and interpretation. From the results of these tests, the physician will determine the need for more non-invasive testing or procedures to treat vascular disease.

Cleveland Clinic's non-invasive vascular laboratory is committed to world class patient care and service. It is accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories,* which means that the lab has a long-term commitment to high standards of quality patient care and monitoring.

Features of the non-invasive vascular laboratory include:

  • Staff of 23 physicians, 24 vascular technologists, and one research technologist. Each study is reviewed and interpreted by either a vascular medicine physician or a vascular surgeons.
  • Two fully functional vascular laboratories are available for patient care. Diagnostic machines have portable capability to meet the needs of the entire Cleveland Clinic patient population.
  • The lab is committed to meet the needs of patients and staff, including patients involved in research studies and outside physician referrals. One ultrasound machine is dedicated to research.
  • Digital image management sets us apart from all vascular laboratories in terms of information processing and accuracy. Computer workstations allow the immediate transfer of digital information at the time of examination and makes physician review of critical images more readily available. This system allows for review of duplex ultrasound examinations, arteriography, MRI and CT scans. This enables a direct comparison of different modalities of imaging for better and quicker correlation and quality assurance.
  • Continuing education and a commitment to state-of-the-art technology allows for a knowledgeable and well-trained staff. 

Studies performed in the non-invasive vascular laboratory include:

  • Carotid artery ultrasound
  • Renal artery ultrasound
  • Aorta and peripheral artery ultrasound
  • Pulse volume recordings/ABI of the upper and lower extremities
  • Exercise and treadmill testing of both upper and lower extremities (respectively)
  • Venous ultrasound of both the upper and lower extremities
  • Venous reflux testing
  • Vein mapping
  • Arterial mapping studies
  • Upper and lower extremity graft surveillance
  • Intra-operative duplex ultrasonography
  • Venous plethysmography
  • TCP02 testing

Cleveland Clinic's Non-invasive Vascular Lab is one of the busiest laboratories in the country. The average number of studies performed in one day ranges from 100-125 studies, not including research studies. This provides a highly skilled staff and an exceptional environment for education and training. An affiliation with the Oregon Institute of Technology* and Cuyagoga Community College allows for education and training of vascular technology students. Additionally, we offer educational opportunities for outside vascular surgeons, vascular internists, cardiologists and ultrasound technologists who are interested in expanding their knowledge base and ultrasound skills.

For more information about visiting our vascular laboratory contact:
Sandra Yesenko, B.S., RVT, R.D.M.S.
Director of Education for the Vascular Laboratory
Phone: 216.445.1622
Email: yesenks@ccf.org

Learn more about Vascular Lab Services and find a location near you.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

Reviewed: 04/13