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Peripheral Vascular Laboratory (PVL)

(757) 668-7000


PVL stands for Peripheral Vascular Laboratory. This test is done to check the blood circulation of the specified arteries and/or veins requested by your child’s doctor/ medical provider. This may also be referred to as a Vascular Ultrasound Exam. The PVL testing is non-invasive, which means there are no “needle sticks” or incisions for these exams.


The test is primarily done by using an ultrasound machine to measure flow through blood vessels. The ultrasound machine is made up of computers with hand held instruments called transducers. A transducer looks like a wand or microphone. This wand makes the picture on the computer screen. Your child will lie down on a bed in a dim room. Gel (goo, lotion, or slime), which is usually warm, is placed on the area to be scanned. Your child is asked to be very still while the pictures are being taken. The pictures are taken using the wand. After it is done the gel is cleaned off. The ultrasound will make lots of noise during the examination. The noise will sound like the beat of your heart, or a drum, or the swish of ocean waves. These examples can be used to prepare your child for the sounds they may hear.


A trained, registered vascular ultrasonographer or technologist will perform the test. At times, a doctor will come into the room to watch or assist.


Most tests do not need special preparation. However, some tests do require your child not eat or drink several hours prior to their exam. Ask your child’s doctor or nurse if there are any preparations needed when the appointment is made. It is very important to follow any special instructions for the test. If they are not followed, the appointment may have to be rescheduled.


No. Ultrasound has been studied for many years by experts and found to be a safe procedure. These tests do not involve the use of x-rays, so there is no radiation.


The technologist or nurse will give you any instructions you need and tell you when you may leave. The results will be sent to the your child’s doctor/medical provider.


Infants: You can help your baby feel more secure during the test by bringing a special blanket, toy or pacifier. Please bring along a bottle of juice or formula to feed your baby when the test is done.

Toddlers and preschool-age children: Young children remember things for only a short time, so the best time to talk about the test is right before you are ready to come to the hospital. Tell your child that you are going to the hospital to have some “pictures" taken that the doctor needs to help him/her get better. Try to use simple words. It is important to be honest with your child. Tell him/her nothing will hurt. Because children at this age are afraid of being separated from their parent, let him/her know that mom or dad will stay with him/her as much as possible. When you come to the hospital, bring a favorite book, toy or blanket. You may also bring along a snack for after the test.

School-age children: School-age children have good imaginations. If you don't tell them the truth, they may imagine something much worse than the actual test. The day of the test, tell your child that he/she will be going to the hospital to have some pictures taken of the inside of his/her body. Tell him/her the pictures will help the doctor decide how to make him/her better. Use simple words. Be honest. Try to tell your child exactly what will happen. Tell him/her it is a painless test. Nothing will hurt. When you come to the hospital, bring along a favorite book, toy or game. If you wish, you may also bring along a snack for after the test.

Please call your child's doctor/medical provider or the Radiology Department at (757) 668-7250 if you have any questions or concerns.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

(757) 668-7000