Intravascular ultrasound iliac vein screening (endovascular ultrasound or intravascular echocardiography) is an imaging technique used to examine the iliac arteries and identify blood flow complications. Because the pelvic region cannot be imaged using external ultrasound screening tools, iliac veins and arteries can only be visualized through an intravascular procedure where the interior of the veins can be visualized.

Why would I need an intravascular ultrasound?

Ultrasound screening is one of several tests for iliac artery occlusive disease. This condition occurs when one of the abdominal and pelvic arteries has a blockage, preventing adequate blood flow to the legs.

Iliac vein occlusion is a potentially serious condition that can be fatal if left unaddressed. Blockage of the iliac vein prevents blood flow from the legs to the heart. This obstruction can cause numerous symptoms, including:

  • Painful, swollen legs
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Leg ulcers
  • Varicose veins

People with high blood pressure and diabetes are particularly at risk for iliac vein occlusion.

What does an intravascular ultrasound do?

Intravascular ultrasound iliac vein imaging involves using a transducer outfitted with a special catheter. The catheter is inserted into a small incision made into the groin and drawn through the iliac vein. The transducer captures ultrasonic images, allowing the physician to visualize any abnormalities.

Intravascular ultrasound iliac vein screening is the most effective diagnostic tool available. While a physical examination is necessary to determine signs and symptoms related to iliac vein stenosis and/or venous insufficiency, ultrasound screening captures three-dimensional images of the targeted area.

Your healthcare provider will perform an intravascular ultrasound iliac vein imaging test to get a detailed internal view of the iliac vein and accurately assess the extent of the blockage. Visualizing the condition will also allow your physician to determine the best treatment and management options.

How do I prepare for an intravascular ultrasound?

Your clinician will provide you with instructions during your consultation. However, it is advisable to do the following:

  • Discuss any medications you are currently taking with your doctor
  • Discuss any preexisting conditions – like DVT – with your doctor
  • Discuss any allergies with your doctor

How long does an intravascular ultrasound take?

Intravascular ultrasound iliac vein imaging takes approximately one hour, not including recovery. You will have to be observed by your clinician. Your doctor will give you detailed aftercare instructions to facilitate recovery and minimize the risk of complications.

Does an intravascular ultrasound have any risks?

There is always some degree of risk from an intravascular procedure, but most risks can be mitigated by carefully following your doctor’s aftercare instructions. Complications include:

  • Infections
  • Blood clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
  • Bruising of the incision site
  • Damage to the blood vessel
  • Swelling

If you experience continuing pain and swelling after your procedure, please contact your physician for further evaluation.

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