Using sound waves to see inside of your blood vessels with a catheter
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Traditional ultrasound uses sound waves bounced off blood vessels to generate images. Intravascular ultrasound or IVUS images are created using a probe that is guided inside your blood vessels so that the walls of the vessels can be examined.
Our Intravascular Ultrasound Core Lab, part of our Cardiovascular Core Laboratories, uses advanced technologies to provide our experts the best possible images to quickly recognize anomalies and guide treatment plans.
Your doctor may recommend an intravascular ultrasound if they need to see inside your blood vessels to detect conditions such as coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis. Intravascular ultrasound also may be used during a balloon valvuloplasty or stent placement to better see inside the blood vessel and confirm correct placement of the stent.
What to expect during an intravascular ultrasound
Your doctor may ask that you not eat or drink before the IVUS procedure. If you are currently on any medications, ask your doctor if you should take them the day of the procedure.
You will wear a hospital gown and will need to lie still on an examining table. An IV will be inserted in your hand or arm to give you mild sedative, which will help you relax. We’ll numb an area in the arm or the groin, and we may need to shave that area. This is where we’ll make a small incision and insert a thin, flexible tube called a catheter.
We’ll guide the catheter through your vessels using an X-ray. When the catheter has reached the section of the vessel that we need to examine, the ultrasound probe at the end of the catheter will record images of the vessel.
After the ultrasound images are complete, we’ll remove the catheter. You likely won’t need sutures, but we’ll need to apply pressure to the incision site to stop the bleeding. We’ll take you to the recovery area for monitoring while you lie flat until the sedation wears off.
Your doctor may recommend that you stay in the hospital following the exam. If you are not admitted, you will be able to return home on the day of the ultrasound, but you’ll need someone to drive you. You may experience some bruising where the catheter was inserted.