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Heart & Vascular Institute

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Vascular Lab Testing

The Vascular Lab provides non-invasive testing to locate areas of vascular blockage and disease which may be producing your symptoms. These tests may include:

  • Simple blood pressure assessment of the extremities using blood pressure cuffs
  • Ultrasound to directly visualize the blood vessels

The Lab is managed by vascular surgeons and vascular medicine specialists skilled in evaluating vascular disease through the use of diagnostic testing. 

The Johns Hopkins Noninvasive Vascular Laboratory has been re-accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission, making it one of the nation's most elite vascular labs. The laboratory is a leader in Extracranial Cerebrovascular Testing, Pheripheral Venous Testing, Peripheral Arterial Testing and Visceral Vascular Testing.

What to Expect

  1. You may be given a prescription to be tested in the Vascular Lab before you see your vascular surgeon, so all the tests will be available for evaluation and diagnosis.
  2. At your appointment, your vascular surgeon will review your symptoms and the findings of the Vascular Lab testing to design a treatment program to improve your condition.

Descriptions of Tests

Following are some descriptions of some common vascular testing.  Your vascular surgeon will explain all tests in detail to you and give you instructions on how to prepare for the test and what to expect afterward.

Ankle-Brachial Index

The ankle-brachial index (ABI) is a measurement that is useful to your physician in evaluating the circulation in your legs.

  1. Your physician will measure your blood pressure in your ankle and in your arm using  a blood pressure cuff and an ultrasound. Your physician will compare the two numbers by forming a ratio to determine your ABI.
  2. The blood pressures in your ankle and arm should be about equal. But if your ankle pressures are lower than your arm pressures, your leg arteries are probably narrowed.

Duplex Ultrasound

  • Carotid imaging - ultrasound of the carotid arteries to identify or rule out carotid artery disease.
  • Renal imaging - ultrasound of the arteries to the kidney to evaluate if there are significant blockages in those arteries that could cause kidney failure or severe hypertension. Patients should have nothing to eat or drink for 12 hour prior to renal duplex testing.
  • Mesenteric - evaluate blockages in the mesenteric arteries that may be contributing to abdominal pain or ischemia of the intestines.
  •  Abdominal imaging- for identification and evaluation of aneurysmal disease of the aorta and its branches.