What is an intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)?

A physician will sometimes want to gather highly detailed images of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. To do so, he or she may use a diagnostic test called intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). Ultrasound is a procedure that transmits high-frequency sound waves through body tissues. These sound waves create echoes that are turned into video or photographic images of the organs and internal structures in the body.

In IVUS, the ultrasound wand that transmits and receives sound waves is threaded inside of your artery. A specially trained physician called an interventional cardiologist inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the artery and feeds it to the site in the body for the test. The catheter emits sound waves from the tip and then receives the echoes. These echoes show detailed images of a section of the artery wall.

Dr. John C. Lipman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) is a specialized ultrasound study. A physician will sometimes want to gather highly accurate measurements of blood vessels (either arteries or veins). This is most commonly used when an intervention is planned (often placing a stent or graft) when accurate sizing is critical. An interventional physician (Radiologist, Cardiologist, or Vascular Surgeon) inserts a thin, flexible catheter with an small utrasound unit near the tip. The catheter emits sound waves and then receives signals back from the echoes. These echoes are then converted in to detailed real time images of the cross section of the vessel.

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), like any form of ultrasound, uses sound waves to create images of a part of the body. IVUS is used to gather images of the inside of arteries to find out if a blockage is present, and if so, to what extent. 

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