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What test shows blocked arteries in the legs?

DVT diagnosis by Mintmedical

A Doppler ultrasound exam is a diagnostic test that can detect blocked arteries within the legs. This condition is also called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins, usually in the legs, and disrupts or blocks blood flow. It usually only occurs in one leg at a time.

A doppler ultrasound exam can help find these blood clots because it utilizes imaging technology to determine the speed and direction of blood flow within the veins. An ultrasound exam is a painless, noninvasive, and accurate diagnostic imaging tool. The exam can be completed in a matter of minutes by a Registered Vascular Technologist.

There are symptoms and risk factors for deep vein thrombosis that may prompt your doctor to request a doppler ultrasound exam. These include the following:


  • Pain or swelling in leg
  • Leg is warm to the touch
  • Red or bluish discoloration of the skin in affected leg

Risk Factors

  • Vein injuries
  • Increased estrogen
  • Chronic illness
  • Limited movement/confinement
  • Family history

When left untreated, deep vein thrombosis can lead to other serious, life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary embolism, or PE. PE occurs when a piece of a blood clot breaks off and becomes lodged in the lungs. Therefore, it is important to determine as soon as possible if a blockage is present within the veins.

A doppler ultrasound exam is a quick and accurate way to test for DVT. After the technologist performs the exam, the results are sent to a physician for final interpretation and diagnosis. For more information on deep vein thrombosis, click here.


  1. Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Mayo Clinic.