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Guidelines Issued for When Docs Should Order Vascular Testing
Date:6/13/2012

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- The American College of Cardiology this week released new guidelines for when doctors should order noninvasive vascular tests, such as ultrasound, for patients with known or suspected arterial disorders.

These tests can be important in helping doctors determine if patients have blockages or disease in arteries located in areas such as the neck, kidneys, abdomen, lower extremities and aorta.

Such testing also helps doctors make treatment decisions and prevent serious problems in patients diagnosed with such disorders.

The panel that developed the guidelines looked at common situations where vascular testing might be considered and concluded that such testing was appropriate in about half of the situations, uncertain in one-third and inappropriate in the other 20 percent.

Overall, arterial vascular tests are appropriate when a patient's signs and symptoms are the main reason for testing. For example, it is reasonable to order a lower-extremity vascular test for a patient who has calf pain while walking, but the pain goes away with rest.

The guidelines were developed by the American College of Cardiology in collaboration with 10 other major medical professional societies.

"This is the first systematic and comprehensive evaluation looking at appropriate indications for vascular testing, such as ultrasound or functional testing," guideline writing committee chairman Dr. Emile Mohler III, director of vascular medicine for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology. "We hope this document will help clinicians determine whether and when to refer individual patients for testing."

Mohler estimated that more than 20 million adults in the United States have some form of vascular disease and would likely be candidates for these types of tests.

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