Your carotid arteries are a pair of blood vessels located on each side of your neck to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your brain and head. In the event of a build-up of fatty deposits, called plaque, on the inside of your carotid arteries, the condition may lead to carotid artery disease, which may lead to a stroke.
A carotid ultrasound is a safe, simple and painless test used to assess the condition. It uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to generate images of any build-up inside your carotid artery.
A Doppler ultrasound/Doppler test may also be carried out to show the blood movement through your blood vessels. Your doctor will be able to fully evaluate the blood flow problem in your carotid arteries based on the results of both ultrasound tests.
Why do you need a carotid Doppler ultrasound?
It is important to detect this narrowing (stenosis) of your arteries early as the condition may cause clogging, which reduces the blood supply to your brain.
The plaque can also rupture and form a blood clot, which may block one of the brain’s smaller arteries and cause a stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
What are the risks and complications of a carotid Doppler ultrasound?
There are no known harmful effects for a standard diagnostic ultrasound.
How do you prepare for a carotid Doppler ultrasound?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for the procedure.
What can you expect for a carotid Doppler ultrasound?
A carotid Doppler ultrasound is a safe, simple and painless procedure.
The procedure lasts about 30 minutes.
During the procedure
You can expect to go through the following procedure:
You will lie on your back on an examination table
You will have a clear gel applied to your body in the area to be examined. The gel is water soluble, safe and harmless.
The radiographer will press a small, hand-held device called the transducer firmly against the skin and sweep it back and forth to image the area of interest.
When the examination is complete, you can wipe the gel off with a paper towel.
You may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.