Vascular Laboratory

The Vascular Laboratory at Tucson Medical Center was developed in 1974.  It was the first laboratory of its type in Southern Arizona.

The TMC Vascular Laboratory performs non-invasive diagnostic tests using ultrasound that involve only minimal discomfort for the patient.  Non-invasive means the procedure does not involve the use of needles or injectable dye.  Tests are performed by Registered Vascular Technologists who will place a hypo-allergenic water based gel on the area being evaluated and then put a transducer over the area.  Images will be transmitted to the ultrasound equipment.  Noises may be heard during the exam which indicates the presence of blood flow.  Once the exams are completed by the technologist, a Vascular Surgeon will interpret the images and blood flow measurements.

Vascular ultrasound test results will assist your provider in correctly diagnosing circulatory problems.  Sometimes, follow-up tests are ordered and are useful to show stability, improvement or progression of the vascular disease.

  • Abdominal Vascular Duplex - Ultrasound imaging of the major arteries and veins in the abdomen can determine the presence of aneurysms, plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) and venous thrombosis.  These exams can take up to 60 minutes to complete.
  • Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring – A portable device is used to record serial blood pressures automatically over a 24-hour period in patients with all forms of hypertension.  This monitoring exam provides physicians with valuable data and guides them in the management and treatment of hypertension.
  • Arterial Doppler Evaluation - Peripheral artery disease or P.A.D. is a common condition, especially in people over the age of 50.  Arteries become narrowed with plaque build-up which causes less blood flow to the muscles.  This can cause pain or cramping in the legs during walking that is relieved when exercise stops, or in severe cases non-healing wounds or gangrene can occur.  The arterial Doppler evaluation is a simple and reliable test used to determine the presence and level of blockage in the arteries.  Blood pressure measurements are taken using ultrasound and recorded at various levels of the arms and legs.  A ratio of the ankle pressure to arm pressure is reported.  It’s called the ankle-brachial index, or ABI.  This index is useful as a general measure of the severity of the PAD.  This exam takes approximately 45-60 minutes.
  • Arterial Duplex – Arterial Duplex Ultrasound is used to visualize the arteries in the arms and legs.  It evaluates the presence of plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) and provides the physician with the locations and severity of the disease.  This exam, especially in conjunction with the Arterial Doppler Evaluation, provides additional information that will aid in guiding treatment and management decisions.  This exam takes approximately 60 minutes.
  • Carotid Duplex – Carotid artery disease is one of the most common causes of stroke.  Ultrasound visualization of the carotid arteries is a simple and accurate test to determine the presence of plaque build-up (atherosclerosis).  This build-up can cause a stroke due to decreased blood flow to the arteries in the brain.  This exam takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • Transcranial Doppler – This procedure provides an evaluation of the arteries within the brain using a small ultrasound transducer placed in various locations on the head.
  • Vascular Screening – Self-pay and self-referred screenings are available for abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease (stroke) and peripheral artery disease (PAD).  Screenings are only $25 per screening test and do not require a physician referral.
  • Venous Duplex – Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known as venous thrombosis, is a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs or arms.  The majority of DVT is treatable with prompt diagnosis and treatment.  Ultrasound visualization of the veins in the arms and legs will evaluate for DVT.  This exam takes approximately 30-45 minutes.
  • Venous Incompetency Duplex – Ultrasound evaluation of the deep and superficial veins can determine valvular function or dysfunction.  This exam provides essential information about which vein segments are functioning abnormally to help guide the vascular surgeon’s treatment and management of varicose veins.  This exam takes approximately 60 minutes.

All patients must be referred by a physician for testing, except for self-pay Vascular Screening. Call outpatient scheduling at 324-2075 to make an appointment.

Package Plans

The Vascular Laboratory provides a package plan for a number of screening tests. These screening tests are self-pay and do not require a doctor’s order. Using an ultrasound machine, a vascular nurse or technician will check for possible blockages.

  • Wellness Screen (all three below): $75
  • Carotid Screen: $25
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screen: $25
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (Ankle Brachial Index) Screen: $25