Standards of the Polish Ultrasound Society – update. Ultrasound examination of the aorta and arteries of the lower extremities
Grzegorz Małek1, Michał Elwertowski2, Andrzej Nowicki3
A Doppler ultrasound examination has an advantage over other vessel imaging methods as it can be carried out by the patient’s bedside and allows to make a diagnosis without exposing the patient to the inconveniency of transportation or an X-ray scan. The purpose of testing the lower extremities and the aorta is to objectively confirm a preliminary clinical diagnosis, localize lesions responsible for the symptoms of the disease, determine their severity and nature (e.g., if they are calcifications or soft lesions), and finally evaluate the hemodynamic criteria. In assessment of the aorta attention is paid not only to aortic diameter measurements, but also to the vascular lumen (dissections with the formation of two flow channels, detachments, balloting of atherosclerotic plaques, etc.) and the presence of atherosclerotic plaques with influx into them (PAU – penetrating ulcer in the plaque or lesions surrounding the aorta, such as retroperitoneal fibrosis or mycotic aneurysm). A correct diagnosis of an abdominal aortic aneurysm requires repeated measurements of the abdominal aorta diameter, and in particular its transverse dimension. When assessing the degree of peripheral arterial stenosis on the basis of hemodynamic parameters, degree of morphological stenosis must be taken into consideration. Collateral circulation may reduce the flow through the main vessel, and thus, the achieved systolic velocities are lower and may understate the degree of the assessed stenosis. Calf vessels are difficult to detect, which results both from the thickness of the muscle and the presence of calcifications. This article has been prepared on the basis of Standards of the Polish Ultrasound Society (2011) and updated on the basis of the latest reports from relevant literature.