Harbour Vascular - Dr Mayo Theivendran
Harbour Vascular Laboratory
Bulk-Billed Ultrasounds

Thoracic Outlet Duplex

What is a thoracic outlet duplex?

Thoracic outlet duplex is an ultrasound scan of the arteries and veins around your clavicle in your shoulder. The subclavian artery is the first part of the pathway of taking blood from your heart to the muscles in your arms and hands. The subclavian vein is the vessel that returns the blood from your arms back to your heart.

These blood vessels have to pass underneath the clavicle, this is the medical name for the collarbone, and over the ribs. Sometimes this space is compromised and the artery and vein can become compressed, this is usually when you are doing something with your arms, typically for a prolonged period. For example, paddling whilst surfing or holding a hairdryer to dry your hair.

Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome can be varied but usually include soreness, pain or tingling in the muscles in the arms or hands, swelling of the arm. Sometimes with the swelling you may see prominent veins across your shoulder, neck and upper chest.

How is the ultrasound performed?

The vascular sonographer is able to perform a dynamic scan of the arteries and the veins in your shoulder to determine if there is any compression. To do this the sonographer will use the ultrasound machine to look at the artery and vein whilst you move your arm in specific positions. We use a range of standard positions but sometimes the sonographer will ask you if there are any specific things you do that cause your symptoms. They will try to recreate that position within the limits of being able to perform the scan.

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For the sonographer to be able to see the subclavian artery and vein it will be necessary for you to remove your shirt. If you are wearing a bra that can be left on but the strap may need to be slipped down.

The sonographer will use gel and the ultrasound transducer to see your artery and vein and access how well the blood is moving in the different positions. The scan usually takes 20-30 minutes but can be longer if it's both arms, after this the sonographer will complete their diagram and report for the referring doctor.

For appointments and enquiries:

Monday - Friday: 8:00am to 5:00pm
Fax: (02) 9182 7533

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