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4. Vascular Ultrasound in Belgium

By Kristien Van Rompaey, Vascular Sonographer - Antwerp University Hospital

In Belgium vascular sonography is mainly performed by doctors. The largest group are the radiologists. There are however other medical disciplines who perform vascular ultrasound examinations as well. Vascular surgeons evaluate by example the presence of varicose veins using duplex ultrasound but can equally evaluate the presence of DVT or a carotid stenosis. Then again neurologists often perform carotid and transcranial duplex ultrasound. There is therefore an overlap, which can vary between hospitals.

In addition there are a few non-doctors performing vascular ultrasound as well. They usually work in a vascular lab that is associated with a cardiology, angiology or vascular surgery unit. These vascular sonographers tend to vary widely in background. There are trained nurses, technical engineers, lab technicians, biomedical scientists, and radiology technicians performing vascular ultrasound. They are trained on the spot by doctors and colleagues, and often followed several courses abroad (ESVS academy, Fontys University in the Netherlands) because there doesn’t exist a specific training for non-doctors in Belgium. 

The exact amount of vascular sonographers is not exactly known because there doesn’t (yet) exist an official professional title as it does in the UK but there will be approximately 25 of them in Flanders. They are all very dedicated healthcare professionals that strive to deliver high quality vascular imaging. 

Up until now there’s no professional group to unite these vascular sonographers which would contribute a lot to the quality, professionalism and recognition of our profession. We hope however to unite them in the future and start a brand new profession as there already exists abroad.