How Computed Tomography (CT) and Ultrasound (US) Work Together To Help Image Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

4 pages
1041 words
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The modern technology has ease the way diseases are diagnosed in the human anatomy without necessarily conducting a surgery. The invention of ultrasound and Computed Tomography brought a new dawn on the medical field. However, the two machines differ in terms of its functionality, in that case, the following paper will focus at discussing the comparison between ultrasound and Computed Tomography and how they operate together in imaging Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).


With ultrasound machine also known as sonograms, the image of internal structure of a person can be created through the utilization of high-frequency sound waves. The ultrasound machine is commonly used by the doctors when it comes to scanning to develop images referred to as sonography or ultrasonography parts scanned include, developing fetus, an individual's pelvic and abdominal organ, tendons and muscles or their blood vessels and heart, spleen, kidneys, and bile duct. The working procedure of a medical sound begins with a passing of probe over the region of concern to relay sound waves into the part. When reducing the air bubbles between the skin and the probe, jelly is smeared in the area first. In some cases, the patient might be asked to change position respective to get the proper view of the target region. The obtained image can be measured, viewed and stored for the future reference.

Computed Tomography is the radiography structured in the three-dimensional image of a body form built by computer from sets of plane cross-sectional images constructed along an axis known as computerized axial tomography, computed axial tomography, computerized tomography. Computed Tomography is known to be an imaging system that uses specialized x-ray equipment to develop comprehensive scans or pictures of the internal structures of the body. The CT scan procedure begins with the patient being moved through the scanning system. An X-ray detector and source of X-ray also rotated in synchronicity for the X-rays that pass via the area of interest can create various image slices in helical or axial mode. The numerous images are then worked out to develop a view of the organ. The equipped CT image can be viewed instantly on a monitor screen or recorded and stored for future analysis.


Both the Computed Tomography and Ultrasound are used for medical testing. Doctors use them as diagnostic tools that diagnose the patient for any disease of body defects. They are applicable in the visualizing of the internal body system without conducting any invasive surgery. The two modules appear to be similar in its purpose; however, there are some differences when it comes to their operation. The following are differences between Computed Tomography and Ultrasound:


Ultrasound is showed in gynecological diseases, obstetrics, breast swellings, gallbladder infections, pelvic organ and thyroid gland diseases. On the other hand, CT is used for the evaluation of the patients with pelvic and abdominal swellings, injuries, which are undiagnosed on ultrasound.

Radiation exposure: Ultrasound it is less harmful since it has un-ionized rations, whereas CT-scan has the ionizing radiation, therefore making it more harmful.

Time: Regarding tome consumption, ultrasound covers 15 minutes while CT scan takes 5 minutes only.

What are limitations for each? Are there gaps in what they can do?

The limitation of ultrasound is that they are difficult to use since they are less sensitive in some of the patients who have the following health conditions, Obesity, hip or knee arthroplasty, oedema, overlying bandages and tenderness. While for CT, due to the radiation and contrast that it operates it is less recommended especially for the patients who are suffering from kidney failures due to the inability to thoroughly filter blood.

How they can work together

Imaging cardiovascular system, some factors need to be put into consideration since the veins and arteries have different characteristics that are determined by their nature. When imaging veins, the most important focus is to identify the absence or presence of a thrombus and evaluate whether it is possible how thrombosis attached to the walls of the vein. On the other hand, when imaging arteries, the most prevalent aspect is to assess obstruct and narrowness of a given vein.

The focal purposes of diagnosing venous thrombosis include:

The absence or presence of the thrombus (ultrasound and CT).

The risk of the thrombus travelling and dislodging to the lungs (ultrasound).

The effectiveness of the venous valves.

The embolus dislodges into the lungs (CT only).

A venous duplex is uniquely effective when CT fails. A thrombus is a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism, whereby it is characterized by the clotting of the blood. Deep Venous thrombosis (DVT) affecting the limbs, is a prevalent clinical condition. Immediate imaging is essential since it assists in on time diagnosis of the condition hence promoting adequate treatment. Since ultrasound is considered to be dependable in detecting of the extremity venous thrombosis, CT is mostly applied as a problem-solving mechanism either to visualize the thrombosis in the central vein similar to the inferior or superior vena cava or to detect the presence of defects such as the pulmonary embolism (PE).

The circumstance that would prompt the doctor to recommend the use of CT on the patient is when it is realized that the patient has adverse health history of cancer and kidney, several PICC lines, bone marrow transplant or is on the clinic of kidney dialysis. Commonly, either the old or new, the calcified thrombus is parenthetically identified. Incidentally, CT can select the vessels that are clotted. After the vessel in questioned for patency, the ultrasound is initiated to evaluate the degree of the clot and determine its patency. Sonography can properly verify what CT has failed to do, such as the intraluminal content together with the flow of direction, besides showing the pathological findings such as collateral vessels. After it is realized that the patient has a thrombus, ultrasound is the modality of choice for continuous follow-up care.


Since Ultrasound is known to be having some limitation, such as the problem in assessing the obese patient, hip or knee arthroplasty, oedema, overlying bandages and tenderness, make it more helpful to apply CT before a sonographer begins the evaluation of the venous system. The CT is a significant template to acquaint you with the patient's anatomy and having ideas of what is going to be occluded.

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