About

Our Cardiovascular Center offers a full range of vascular studies and diagnostic testing, including a noninvasive vascular ultrasoun, which is a procedure used to examine blood circulation in a patient’s neck, abdomen, arms, and legs.

The tests are performed by our specially trained technologists and may be used to evaluate one or more of the following conditions:

  • Blood flow in the arteries in your neck that supply blood to the brain (carotid ultrasound)
  • Blood flow in the arteries to detect the presence, severity, and specific location of a narrowed area of the arteries (peripheral arterial disease or PAD)
  • Blood flow in the veins to detect clots (DVT) or reflux (venous insufficiency)
  • Size of the abdominal aorta to detect aneurysms (AAA)
  • Blood flow in dialysis grafts or fistulas
  • Blood flow to a newly transplanted organ

Ultrasound

What is an ultrasound?

An ultrasound procedure is a noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) diagnostic procedure used to assess soft tissue structures such as muscles, blood vessels, and organs.

Ultrasound uses a transducer that sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the organs and structures within. The sound waves bounce off the organs like an echo and return to the transducer. The transducer picks up the reflected waves, which are then converted by a computer into an electronic picture of the organs or tissues under study.

Different types of body tissues affect the speed at which sound waves travel. Sound travels the fastest through bone tissue, and moves most slowly through air. The speed at which the sound waves are returned to the transducer, as well as how much of the sound wave returns, is translated by the transducer as different types of tissue.

A clear conducting gel is placed between the transducer and the skin to allow for smooth movement of the transducer over the skin and to eliminate air between the skin and the transducer for the best sound conduction.

By using an additional mode of ultrasound technology during an ultrasound procedure, blood flow can be assessed. An ultrasound transducer capable of assessing blood flow contains a Doppler probe. The Doppler probe within the transducer evaluates the velocity and direction of blood flow in the vessel and makes the sound waves audible. 

Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function (in "real time," like a live TV broadcast), and to assess blood flow through various vessels. Ultrasound procedures are often used to examine many parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, female pelvis, prostate, scrotum, thyroid and parathyroid glands, and the vascular system. During pregnancy, ultrasounds are performed to evaluate the development of the fetus.

Technological advancements in the field of ultrasound now include images that can be made in a three-dimensional view (3-D) and/or four dimensional (4-D) view. The added dimension of the 4-D is motion, so that it is a 3-D view with movement.

What are the different types of ultrasound procedures?

Different ultrasound techniques exist for different conditions. Examples of some of the more common types of ultrasound examinations include the following:

  • Doppler ultrasound. Used to see structures inside the body, while evaluating blood flow at the same time. Doppler ultrasound can determine if there are any problems within the veins and arteries.

  • Vascular ultrasound. Used to see the vascular system and its function, including detection of blood clots.

  • Echocardiogram. Used to see the heart and its valves, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the heart's pumping ability.

  • Abdominal ultrasound. Used to detect any abnormalities of the abdominal organs (i.e., kidneys, liver, pancreas, gallbladder), such as gallstones or tumors.

  • Renal ultrasound. Used to examine the kidneys and urinary tract.

  • Obstetrical ultrasound. Used to monitor the development of the fetus.

  • Pelvic ultrasound. Used to find the cause of pelvic pain, such as an ectopic pregnancy in women, or to detect tumors or masses.

  • Breast ultrasound. Used to examine a mass in the breast tissue.

  • Thyroid ultrasound. Used to see the thyroid and to detect any abnormalities.

  • Scrotal ultrasound. Used to further investigate pain in the testicles.

  • Prostate ultrasound. Used to examine any nodules felt during a physical examination.

  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound. Used to examine any joint or muscle pain for conditions, such as a tear.

  • Intraoperative ultrasound. Used to help the surgeon during a minimally invasive operation or biopsy.

  • Interventional ultrasound. Used by an interventional radiologist to guide a minimally invasive procedure.

  • Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). Used to provide direct visualization and measurement of the inside of blood vessels.

  • Endoscopic ultrasound. Used to obtain direct ultrasound examination of the inside of a body cavity or organ, using an ultrasound transducer inside an endoscope (a small, flexible tube with a light and a lens on the end).

How are ultrasounds performed?

An ultrasound procedure may be done on an outpatient basis, or as part of inpatient care. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, an ultrasound procedure follows this process:

  1. A gel-like substance will be smeared on the area of the body to undergo the ultrasound (the gel acts as a conductor).

  2. Using a transducer, a tool that sends ultrasound waves, the ultrasound will be sent through the patient's body.

  3. The sound from the transducer will be reflected off structures inside the body, and the information from the sound waves will be analyzed by a computer.

  4. The computer will create an image of these structures on a television screen. The moving pictures can be recorded.

  5. There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients or instrument operators caused by exposures to ultrasound.

Cardiologists

Feras M. Bader, M.D.

Feras Bader, MD, MS, FACC is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 1992 he received a full scholarship and began his undergraduate and medical training at the University of Jordan School of Medicine in Amman, Jordan; which he completed in 1998. He went... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-5122
University Hospital (801) 585-3693

Nathaniel M. Birgenheier, M.D.

Dr. Birgenheier is an anesthesiologist who focuses on cardiac anesthesia and the use of echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) both in the operating room and in the outpatient setting. He is a board-certified anesthesiologist qualified to provide anesthesia for all types of surgery and procedures who has adv... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Amber D. Bledsoe, M.D.

Dr. Bledsoe is an Anesthesiologist at the University of Utah, specializing in perioperative echocardiography. She is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the National Board of Echocardiography, both in Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography and Adult Echocardiography. She has a p... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Bruce E. Bray, M.D.

Dr. Bray is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah. Dr. Bray studied Biology at Loma Linda University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He subsequently obtained a medical degree from Loma Linda University. Dr. Bray completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Kettering Medical Center, and comple... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Medical Informatics

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676
William B. Ririe Hospital & Rural Health Clinic (775) 289-3612

Carl R. Christensen, M.D.

Carl Christensen, M.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah, Huntsman Cancer Hospital, and George E. Wahlen Veterans Administration Medical Center serving in chest, body, ultrasound and musculoskeletal imaging while specializing in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Ima... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2370

Jennifer A. DeCou, M.D.

Dr. DeCou has a special interest in patients with cardiac disease and a special expertise in echocardiography. She is a level 3 trained echocardiographer. In addition, she specializes in the preop evaluations of patients for surgery.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Edward Michael Gilbert, M.D.

Edward Michael Gilbert, MD is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Gilbert received his medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He completed his training in Internal Medicine and in Critical Care at Wayne State University. He completed his Cardiovascular Di... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant

Locations:

Billings Clinic (800) 332-7156
Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (208) 367-4278
University Hospital (801) 585-3693
University Hospital (801) 585-5122
Veterans Administration Medical Center (801) 584-1235

John M. Hoffman, M.D.

John Hoffman, MD, is a professor of radiology and neurology and director of nuclear medicine in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He is also director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute and co-leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program. He holds the Willard Sno... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

Huntsman Cancer Hospital (801) 587-4064
University Hospital (801) 581-2370

Lillian L. Khor, M.Sc., M.B.B.Ch.

Lillian Khor received a foreign medical degree, M.B.BCh., BAO degree (equivalent to M.D.) from the National University of Ireland in 1997. She concluded her foreign medical training with an internal medicine residency and moved here in 2000, and repeated her internal medicine Internship and Residency at the Univ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 585-7676

Bhasker R. Koppula, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Bhasker Rao Koppula MD works with the Nuclear Medicine division of the Radiology department at the University of Utah. Dr. Koppula has a special interest in PET/CT and molecular imaging as well as treatment procedures including thyroid treatment and treatment of lymphoma using Bexxar and Zevalin.... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Christopher J. McGann, M.D.

Christopher J. McGann, M.D., has appointments in both the Cardiology Division and Radiology Department at the University of Utah, where he has been a faculty member since 2002. He currently serves as the Section Chief of General Cardiology and the Director of Cardiovascular Imaging. He received his medical degre... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Kimberly M. Molina, M.D.

Kimberly Molina, MD is a member of the division of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Molina is a general cardiologist who sees children with all forms of heart disease, and specializes in seeing patients with heart failure and cardiomyop... Read More

Specialties:

Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, Pediatric Cardiology

Locations:

Pediatric Cardiology (801) 662-5400

Jack H. Morshedzadeh, M.D.

Jack Morshedzadeh. M.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as the Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Medicine Unit and Cardiac Critical Care Unit. He is also the Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program. He... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990
University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Kathryn A. Morton, M.D.

Kathryn Morton, MD, is a professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Morton received her medical degree from the University of Utah, followed by an internship in Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and residencies in Radiology and Nuclear Medic... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2370

Cory M.L. Nitzel, M.D.

Cory Nitzel M.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He has been on faculty at the University of Utah since 2013. Dr. Nitzel graduated from Idaho State University with a BS in Microbiology in 2002. He received his medical degr... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine

Locations:

South Jordan Health Center (801) 585-7676

David H. Odell, M.D.

Dr. Odell has clinical responsibilities at hospitals within the University of Utah system and also the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City. His clinical duties include membership on the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia teams at the University and the VA. This includes providing anesthesia for all typ... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-6393

Theophilus Owan, M.D.

Dr. Owan is appointed to faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. His primary clinical affiliation is with general cardiology and secondarily with interventional cardiology. Dr Owan’s General Cardiology activities involve outpatient, and inpatient services including diagnostic ech... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hypertension, Interventional Cardiology

Locations:

San Juan Clinic (435) 587-5054
South Jordan Health Center (801) 585-7676
University Hospital (801) 585-2341

Peter C. Pelegrin, M.D.

Dr. Pelegrin has a special interest in cardiac anesthesia, and special expertise in echocardiography. He is a level 3 trained echocardiographer.... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Rashmee U. Shah, M.D.

Rashmee U. Shah, MD MS has an appointment in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She has been on faculty at the University of Utah since 2014.

... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Joseph E. Tonna, M.D.

Dr. Joseph Tonna, MD, FAAEM, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery (Emergency Medicine) at the University of Utah. He works as an Attending Physician in the Surgical and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Units and in the Emergency Department. His clinical and research interests include medical student and resident ... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Mechanical Support, Critical Care, Echocardiography, Emergency Medicine, Surgery, General

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Daniel P. Vezina, M.D., M.Sc., FRCPC

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology (Clinical track)
Associate Professor of internal Medicine, Division of cardiology (Adjunct)
Director of the VA SLC Echocardiography Laboratory... Read More

Specialties:

Anesthesiology, Echocardiography

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7715

Jerry D. Walker, M.D.

Jerry D. Walker, M.D., has appointments in both Division of Cardiology and the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He has been on faculty since 2010 and oversees the University Redwood Cardiology Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah and has developed the University Cardiology Practice... Read More

Specialties:

Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine

Locations:

Huntsman Cancer Hospital
Cardiovascular Clinic (307) 362-3711
Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9990

Kevin J. Whitehead, M.D.

Kevin Whitehead, MD is an Associate Professor of Cardiology at the University of Utah, and also has privileges at Primary Children's Medical Center. He cares for adults with congenital heart disease, heart disease in pregnancy, and other patients with cardiac complications of genetic diseases (such as muscular ... Read More

Specialties:

Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Cardiology, Echocardiography, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 213-2033
University Hospital (801) 587-0555
University Hospital (801) 581-8188

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

Brent D. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., has appointments in the Division of Cardiology and in the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. He serves as Director of the Cardiovascular Center, Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory, and Director of Cardiology Clinical services. He has been on faculty at the U... Read More

Specialties:

Body Imaging, Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology, Echocardiography, General Cardiology, Nuclear Medicine, Valvular Heart Disease

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-0555

Clinical Trials

  • PARAGON
    Keywords: Heart Failure, HFpEF, Structural Heart Disease
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • A Humanitarian Device Exemption Treatment Protocol of TheraSphere®
    Keywords: Y90, Theraspheres, Radioembolization, Liver tumors, HCC, liver metastatic disease
    Status: Recruiting
  • OPTISON
    Keywords: Echocardiography, Left atrial thrombus
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Renal Function in Cirrhosis
    Keywords: Cirrhosis, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 99m tc-dtpa, GFR, Nuclear Medicine, Liver Transplant
    Status: Recruiting
  • NEAT HFpEF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, Preserved Ejection Fraction, HFpEF, Nitrates, Activity Tolerance
    Status: Not yet recruiting
  • RESTAGE - HF
    Keywords: Heart Failure, LVAD, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Heart Recovery
    Status: Not yet recruiting