This article is about the effectiveness of Doppler scans (ultrasounds) in detecting a deep vein thrombosis.

I recently read of a woman whose inner left thigh was red, swollen and painful; Doppler (ultrasound) was negative, but 11 days later a CT scan (which emits radiation) showed completely clotted veins!

Can a DVT be missed by a Doppler scan?

“ABSOLUTELY,” says Kevin Casey, MD, FACS, a vascular surgeon with West Coast Vascular.

“I will start by saying that rarely is a test ever 100% accurate.  The great aspect about ultrasound is that it is noninvasive, easily obtainable, reproducible and relatively inexpensive.

“However, the drawbacks to an ultrasound are that it is heavily technician-dependent, can be difficult in patients with a challenging body habitus (namely, obesity).

“Having said that, the sensitivity and specificity of duplex ultrasonography in the diagnosis of acute DVT is around 95% and 98%, respectively.”

Dr. Casey specializes in vascular and vein therapy, and has been the lead researcher on publications examining abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease and lower extremity critical limb ischemia.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

 

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Top image: Shutterstock/Boyloso