Vascular disease diagnosis is primarily based on the patient’s medical history, symptoms and a physical exam. Each type of vascular disease may have quite different symptoms if looked at closely enough.
Sometimes a conclusive vascular diseases diagnosis may require other medical tests, such as ultrasounds, angiographies or CT scans.
The CT scans along with the MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are alternative tests for the X Rays, because the doctors now try avoiding radiation exposure on their patients.
In the specific case of peripheral vascular disease, the first thing a doctor should observe is if the artery pulse is weak or absent in the extremities. Tissue ischemia can cause the skin color or nail changes and that should also be looking for when suspecting a peripheral vascular disease.
In order to diagnose vascular disease, the doctor may look for specific sounds that can be heard over the arteries using a stethoscope. A more conclusive diagnose may be established with the help of the imaging tests which can include the Doppler ultrasound test, a form of ultrasound that detects and measures blood pressure behind the knees and the ankles.
A patient with peripheral vascular disease has a lower blood pressure in the legs comparing to the blood pressure in the arms. A non-invasive test used to observe the arteries is the duplex ultrasound which can help significantly in the vascular diseases diagnosis since it can provide an accurate image of the arteries.
The angiography is another accurate technique used to diagnose vascular conditions and it is an accurate test that can detect the specific location or severity of the artery occlusion. X ray angiographies are not normally used for an initial peripheral vascular disease due to its side effects and to the fact that it is quite an invasive procedure.
In order to diagnose vascular disease related to the heart the doctor will pay attention to the patient’s symptoms history, family medical history and medical tests. The first test used to diagnose vascular disease related to the heart is the basic EKG test or the electrocardiogram. The EKG (also spelt ECG) is able to record the electrical activity of the heart. It is normally part of the routine physical exam when the patient is suspected with a heart condition and it is painless, quick and safe. However, other tests may be required such a chest X Ray, a stress test, an echocardiogram or a CT heart scan or a heart MRI. The imaging tests are used because they can show where the artery obstruction is and how severe it is.
The cerebrovascular diseases are diagnosed on the basis of several imaging tests. Most of the tests are designed to detect carotid artery disease before it evolves to a stroke. These tests may include physical examination (when the doctor looks for specific sounds that can be heard in the neck) or a carotid duplex ultrasound, a carotid angiograms, a MRA or a CT-A.
Vascular disease diagnosis may be established in different ways, but the most non-invasive procedures are the imaging tests.