Carotid Ultrasound

Carotid ultrasound uses sound waves to examine the blood flow through the carotid arteries located on each side of your neck. These important arteries deliver blood from your heart to your brain, but can become narrowed when fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that circulate in the bloodstream create a buildup of plaque. A Doppler ultrasound is often included as part of a carotid ultrasound examination, to measure and evaluate the blood flow through your blood vessels. These safe, painless procedures can identify blocked or narrowed carotid arteries, which increase your risk of stroke, and will help your doctor determine a treatment.

How Should I Prepare the Day Before the Procedure?

There’s nothing you need to do to prepare for the test. You can eat, drink, take regular medications, and follow your normal daily routine. Wear an open-necked shirt or blouse to your appointment, and remove necklaces or dangling earrings.

What Happens on the Day of the Procedure?

The test is performed by a specially trained technician and will take about 30 minutes. You’ll lie on your back, and the technician will apply gel to your neck above each carotid artery to help the sound waves pass through your skin. Next a device called a transducer is passed back and forth over your neck, producing sound waves that bounce off your tissues, organs and blood cells, and “echo” back to the device. A computer translates the sound waves into pictures on a video monitor. 

When Will I Get My Results?

The technician may briefly discuss the results of the test with you immediately after the procedure. Thy will then carefully review the test results and prepare a report for the doctor who ordered the test. Your doctor will talk with you after looking at your echo pictures and discuss whether you'll need additional treatment or follow-up.

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