Three reasons to have a vascular screening

3 reasons to have a vascular screeningMeet Ashley Marcolin, registered vascular technologist at TMC and one of six RVTs that perform vascular screening exams at TMC. Ashley is the newest addition to the team, but manager Sarah Yeager reports Ashley reflects the kindness, compassion and empathy typical of the whole team.

“When people come in for a vascular exam they’re often very nervous. Whether they’re in the hospital for a vascular-related concern or a vascular wellness screening, I want them to know that they can relax, this is a very non-invasive test. We use no radiation, no dyes, no needles, and it takes just 30 minutes.” Ashley said. “This really is a very simple way to catch serious conditions early before they become life-threatening. The screening can save a life, and it takes very little time.”

While Ashley is a new member of the team, she has a lot of experience with performing exams of this kind. In her training, she had to complete 960 clinical hours using the techniques she now uses every day. We calculated how many exams she has performed since she started at TMC, where she also completed her clinical training. It runs into the thousands. “You know when you come to TMC that your technologist is a registered vascular technologist and has undergone a two-year intensive or four-year course before they can even take the certification exams,” Sarah explained.

What is involved in a vascular wellness screening?

We do three separate tests that together take about 30 minutes. You need to fast for four hours beforehand and wear loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to the abdomen, neck, legs and arms. You do not need a doctor’s referral to schedule an appointment, but we will need the name of your primary care physician to send the results.

Ankle-Brachial Index

We use ultrasound scans along with blood pressure cuffs on the ankles and arms to screen for blockages or signs of disease in the arteries of the limbs. For this exam, you need to take your shoes and socks off. This is a screening for peripheral artery disease. PAD is a very common condition, especially in people over the age of 50. PAD can cause chronic leg pain when you’re walking or performing other exercises.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

This screening uses ultrasound scans looking for a ballooning of the wall of the abdominal aorta. If this ballooning or aneurysm ruptures it can be fatal. For this screening, you lie on your back while an RVT places the ultrasound transducer on several areas of your abdomen. The transducer has a bit of warm gel on the end. The gel helps us get clearer pictures and will not hurt your skin. You may feel slight pressure from the transducer as it moves along your body.

Carotid Artery Duplex Evaluation

Using an instrument called a transducer, the RVT scans the carotid artery in your neck to check the flow of blood, which informs us of plaque and blockages that put you at risk for an ischemic stroke.

Should you get a vascular screening?

Sarah and Ashley suggest that everyone over the age of 50 with any of the below listed risk factors get a vascular screening, and that any additional testing or screenings should be repeated at your physician’s direction.

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You may also be at increased risk of arterial vascular disease if you have one of the following:

  • Have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Smoke or have a history of smoking
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure
  • Have coronary artery disease

When will I get the results?

Our exams are read in house by a vascular surgeon and the results sent to you within 3-5 days.

Three reasons to have a vascular screening:

  1. It’s quick, easy and painless
  2. It’s affordable
  3. It can help prevent stroke and detect abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease

Call (520) 348-2028 to schedule your vascular screening.

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Amputation as a last resort – How TMC’s Save A Limb program is saving lives

It is no secret that we live in a region where diabetes is rampant.  Statewide, the statistics are stunning.  According to the American Diabetes Association, one out of every nine Arizonans – nearly 500,000 people – are affected by the disease.

One of the most devastating consequences of the disease is amputation, and with more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occurring in people with diabetes, it is a common complication. And it doesn’t stop there with the loss of a limb; mortality rates increase with amputation.

Vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Namanny, Saguaro Surgical

Vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Namanny,
Saguaro Surgical

The goal of TMC’s Limb Salvage Team is to “save a limb, save a life.”  They work to keep these patients functional.  TMC’s Save A Limb program is a multidisciplinary approach to patients with advanced vascular disease or Peripheral Artery Disease (P.A.D.).  A team of vascular and podiatric surgeons, nurses, technicians and registered dieticians coordinate their care to save limbs and prevent amputations.  “The surgeons on this team are considered experts in this area,” explained Dr. Matthew Namanny, a vascular surgeon with Saguaro Surgical.  “If patients are suffering from severe P.A.D. or wounds, or if these patients are identified by physicians and nurses in hospitals and clinics, we want them sent here so that we can do everything possible to prevent that amputation.  That’s what we want to be known for.”

The team uses the most advanced methods available to treat patients, like rapid endovascular interventions, synthetic skin substitutes and prophylactic elective surgery to eliminate biomechanical foot abnormalities.

“We have a prevalent Native American population here, and a lot of our population is at high risk for P.A.D. because of obesity, coronary artery disease, and hypertension.  Having the Save A Limb program available at a community hospital is such a huge benefit to patients in Southern Arizona as well as the rest of the state.  Our team helps hundreds of patients a year, but we know there are hundreds more who could benefit, ” Dr. Namanny said.

For more information about TMC’s Save A Limb program, please click here.

Peripheral arterial disease is no walk in the park

Between 8 million and 12 million people in the United States, especially those over age 50, suffer from peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, but many people are unaware of it because the disease, which raises a person’s risk of stroke or heart attack, doesn’t always have symptoms.

September is Peripheral Arterial Disease Awareness Month and we encourage you to learn more about this condition. According to Healthwise Knowledgebase “PAD is narrowing or blockage of arteries that results in poor blood flow to your arms and legs. When you walk or exercise, your leg muscles do not get enough blood and you can get painful cramps. PAD, also caused peripheral vascular disease, is a common yet serious disease that raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

PAD does not always cause symptoms, so many people may have PAD and not know it. People who do experience symptoms, such as pain or cramping in the legs, often do not report them, believing they are a natural part of aging or due to another cause.

“If you have any risk factors for PAD or have any unexplained pain or cramping in your legs, you really should discuss this with your healthcare provider,” says Karen Reinhard, N.P., vascular surgery nurse practitioner. “PAD can not only affect your quality of life but can lead to more serious complications and there are a number of lifestyle changes, treatments, and interventions that can really make a difference.”


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461