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Top 20 noninvasive vascular diagnostic study procedures

Vascular diseases represent a significant global health burden. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) alone affects about 21 million people in the U.S. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective management, and non-invasive vascular diagnostic procedures play a vital role in this process

In this Healthcare Insight, we explore the top 20 most frequently performed non-invasive vascular diagnostic study procedures. By understanding the use of these procedures, healthcare providers and other stakeholders can gain insights into current vascular diagnostic trends, help identify areas of high demand, and tailor product development or service offerings to meet evolving vascular health needs.

What is a noninvasive vascular study?

A noninvasive vascular study is a diagnostic test used to evaluate the condition of blood vessels, such as arteries and veins, without the need for surgical procedures or injections. These tests are designed to be safe, painless, and risk-free, using technologies like ultrasound, Doppler imaging, and other methods to assess blood flow, detect blockages, and diagnose various vascular conditions.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top noninvasive vascular diagnostic studies by share of procedures using 2023 calendar year data from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas All-Payor Claims dataset.

Most common noninvasive vascular study procedures in 2023

RankHCPCS/CPT codeHCPCS/CPT description% of proceduresExplore dataset
193971EXTREMITY STUDY21.7%Explore
293970EXTREMITY STUDY17.5%Explore
493922UPR/L XTREMITY ART 2 LEVELS12.3%Explore
593975VASCULAR STUDY6.4%Explore
793976VASCULAR STUDY6.1%Explore
893923UPR/LXTR ART STDY 3+ LVLS3.6%Explore
993978VASCULAR STUDY2.3%Explore
1293990DOPPLER FLOW TESTING0.8%Explore
1393979VASCULAR STUDY0.6%Explore
1593924LWR XTR VASC STDY BILAT0.5%Explore
1793892TCD EMBOLI DETECT W/O INJ0.4%Explore
2093985DUP-SCAN HEMO COMPL BI STD0.2%Explore

Fig 1. – Data from Definitive Healthcare Atlas All-Payor Claims dataset for calendar year 2023. Medical claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and is updated monthly. Accessed May 2024.

Which noninvasive vascular study procedure was performed most in 2023?

A limited or unilateral duplex scan of extremity veins was the most-performed noninvasive vascular study procedure in 2023 based on our data, with 21.7% of procedures performed that year. Complete bilateral duplex scan of extremity veins came in second, with 17.5% of procedures performed in 2023, followed by extracranial artery study, with 16.3% of procedures.

These scans are essential diagnostic tools that provide detailed information about the vascular system, allowing healthcare providers to detect and manage various conditions. The high frequency of limited or unilateral and complete bilateral duplex scans of extremity veins underscores their importance in diagnosing issues like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), venous insufficiency, and varicose veins.

Similarly, the significant use of extracranial artery studies highlights the critical need for monitoring and assessing carotid artery health to prevent strokes and other cerebrovascular events. These non-invasive procedures are valued for their accuracy, safety, and ability to deliver real-time insights, making them integral components of vascular healthcare.

What types of vascular tests are there?

Various vascular tests are used to diagnose and assess blood flow issues throughout the body. Here are some of the most common types:

Non-invasive tests

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): Compares the blood pressure in the ankles to the blood pressure in the arms to detect conditions like peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
  • Doppler ultrasound: Uses sound waves to create images of blood vessels and assess blood flow and can diagnose blood clots, varicose veins, and blockages in arteries.
  • Pulse volume recording (PVR): Using inflatable cuffs and a Doppler probe, measures blood pressure changes in the arms or legs to help evaluate blood flow and potential blockages.
  • Photoplethysmography (PPG): Uses light to measure blood flow changes in the fingers or toes to assess circulation and nerve function.

Minimally invasive tests

  • Angiography: X-ray imaging that involves injecting a contrast dye into the bloodstream to visualize blood vessels and identify blockages.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): An imaging technique that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of blood vessels without X-rays.
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA): Combines a CT scan with an injected contrast dye to create detailed cross-sectional images of blood vessels.

Most common vascular tests

The most performed noninvasive vascular tests, according to Definitive Healthcare claims data, are ultrasound tests used to study veins, carotid arteries, and renal arteries, including:

  • Venous ultrasound: Typically examines extremities for blood clots or to determine the source of extremity pain caused by physical activity.
  • Carotid ultrasound: Measures arterial blood flow to the brain and can help predict or prevent stroke.
  • Renal artery ultrasound: Measures blood flow to the kidneys and is usually ordered for patients with severe hypertension.

What are non-invasive diagnostic techniques?

Non-invasive diagnostic techniques are medical procedures used to assess and diagnose various health conditions without breaking the skin or entering the body. These techniques are generally safe, painless, and often performed on an outpatient basis. They use advanced technologies to provide valuable information about internal organs, tissues, and bodily functions.

Some of the most common non-invasive diagnostic techniques include:

  • X-ray: Uses electromagnetic radiation to create images of bones and some internal organs.
  • Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to create images of soft tissues and organs, often used to assess blood flow and organ function. Venous duplex scans are a type of ultrasound.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed 3D images of organs, tissues, and bones.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: Combines X-rays with computer technology to create detailed cross-sectional images of the body.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): Measures the electrical activity of the heart to assess heart rhythm and function.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG): Measures electrical activity in the brain to assess brain function and identify potential problems like seizures.
  • Electromyography (EMG): Measures electrical activity in muscles to assess nerve function and muscle function.
  • Pulse oximetry: Uses a clip placed on a finger or earlobe to measure blood oxygen levels.

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