Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is an imaging technique that involves the insertion of a small ultrasound device through blood vessels to provide a detailed view of the interior of blood vessels. The ultrasound device produces sound waves that reflect off vessel structures, which are recorded and translated by a computer into images.
IVUS helps identify blocked areas due to cholesterol buildup, and areas of aortic dissection (tears in the aortic wall). It is usually performed before and after stent insertion (tube inserted to support and open blocked blood vessels) to verify the correct position of the stents.
Prior to intravascular ultrasound, you may be given medication to prevent clotting during the procedure. The procedure is carried out under sedation. Local anesthesia is administered to the area of the groin where the ultrasound catheter will be inserted. The catheter is then advanced through the femoral artery, towards the heart to reach the blocked or treated arteries. Sound waves are produced and images obtained. The catheter is then removed and pressure applied to the insertion site to prevent bleeding. You will need to lie flat for a period of time following the procedure to reduce the chances of bleeding.
As with all invasive procedures, intravascular ultrasound may be associated with risks and complications such as bleeding at the site of insertion, clot formation, damage to vessel wall, irregular heart rhythm and allergic reaction to the anesthesia.