Intravascular ultrasound is an examination of the coronary arteries, using the transducer to send soundwaves into the body, producing images that can be analyzed on a computer.
The images can show the entire wall of an artery, to help determine if the person is at risk from a heart attack. The procedure is completely safe, and doesn’t use any radiation.
This use of the ultrasound scanning equipment is often used while another procedure is taking place. So, while there is no need to prepare specifically for its examination, the patient should consult a doctor so that any other preparation is adhered to.
The Screening Process
Unlike ultrasound screening that takes place on the surface of the skin, intravascular screening is performed by using a catheter which is threaded through the artery to the predefined location, where imaging is carried out. These images can then be analyzed on a computer to assess any issues, and how they should be treated.
It is often used with a catheter angiography, and unlike an angioplasty, it forms images of the entire artery wall. These images help the doctors to decide on the size of the stent to be used, and following the stents insertion, it can be used to check the results.
The Procedure Itself
The procedure is usually carried out in a catheterization lab, and in conjunction with another procedure, normally an angioplasty. It does not normally require a prolonged stay in hospital, and in most cases the patient leaves the same day. The physician will numb the area where the catheter will be inserted, and make a small incision. A sheath is then put into the artery, to allow the catheter to pass through to the desired location. This is when the transducer will transmit the soundwaves it records back to the computer for analysis. This procedure allows for the vessels to be checked in several separate locations directly from the one entry point.
Before having an intravascular screening, the patient should inform the doctor of any allergies that are not listed on their medical records. Women who are pregnant, or think they might be pregnant should not undergo the screening. Likewise, for new mothers, breast milk may have to be produced ahead of the examination, allowing time for the mother to fully recover afterwards.
Intravascular screening is an important part of modern medicine. It allows doctors to see in detail the insides of the arteries, and to examine exactly where treatments such as stents need to be inserted to give the patient maximum benefit. Using this procedure in combination with others also gives medical staff more confidence when carrying out their treatments as they can see the results immediately.
The benefits for the patient are also plain. They can have multiple arteries examined at the same time, meaning less time being spent with the doctor getting results on different areas of the artery system. Because this procedure is carried out under anesthetic, or sedation, it is not uncomfortable for the patient, who is only left with a small incision mark.
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