Arterial Duplex Ultrasound | Blood Flow Arms & Legs | MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Assessing blood flow through your limbs’ arteries

A duplex ultrasound combines a traditional ultrasound, which uses sound waves that bounce off blood vessels to create an image, and Doppler ultrasound, which records sound waves that bounce off moving objects, such as blood, to measure speed and flow.

Your doctor may recommend an arterial duplex ultrasound if they suspect an artery is narrowed or blocked, reducing blood flow to your arms or legs. It’s often used to detect peripheral artery disease (PAD). It also may be used before or after a procedure to restore blood flow to determine if the procedure was a success.

What to expect during an arterial duplex ultrasound

During the test, you will be asked to lie on a table and remain still. A technician will spread gel over the area being tested. The gel helps transmit the sound waves to the ultrasound wand, which the technician will move over the area. A computer will turn the sound waves into images, and the Doppler will create the “swishing” sound of your blood.

The technician will also use a blood pressure cuff to take measurements at different levels of the limb. The exam typically takes 30 minutes and should be painless. Your doctor will review the results with you when they’re available.



Atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove plaque from blocked arteries.

Limb salvage

Limb salvage is a form of treatment our vascular surgeons use as an alternative to amputation for patients with severe peripheral artery disease, or PAD.

Peripheral artery disease treatments

Peripheral artery disease treatments may include lifestyle changes, medication, and minimally invasive and surgical procedures to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Our providers

Dr Brian Case listens to the heart of a patient during an office visit at MedStar Health. Both people are wearing masks.

Expert cardiology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our cardiovascular surgeons.

Additional information

Vascular and endovascular program

Partner with a recognized leader in offering care ranging from straightforward vascular disease to the most complex vascular disorders.

Learn More

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.