What is the purpose of a carotid ultrasound?
Atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, is the gradual narrowing of arteries throughout the body. This is caused by the accumulation of fat and other materials along the lining of the arterial walls. This is a natural part of aging. Plaque formation can cause narrowing and possible blockages of these arteries – disrupting blood flow.
The carotid artery system supplies your brain with blood. Excessive narrowing or blockages may lead to TIA’s or strokes. A TIA is a mini stroke due to a brief reduction in blood flow where symptoms last only a few minutes. Symptoms may be speech difficulty, weakness, dizziness, numbness or blurry vision. Stroke occurs when the brain is deprived of blood due to blockage of the carotid artery or one if its branches. Your doctor can sometimes hear abnormal sound with his stethoscope placed on your neck. This is called carotid bruit and can alert the doctor to a possible narrowing.
Who administers the carotid ultrasound test?
An ultrasound technologist administers the test.
How long will the test take?
The total amount of time this test will take is approximately 30 minutes.
How does a carotid ultrasound work?
Ultrasound is sound waves used to produce images of structures within the body. This test is done to assess your carotid artery system for narrowing of the arteries and possible blockages. There are four arteries on each side of your neck that are checked: the common carotid artery, the internal artery, and external artery and the vertebral artery.
You are asked to lie on your back and relax. An instrument called a transducer is placed on your neck and moved up and down your neck to visualize each of the arteries. An ultrasound is not painful.
How should I prepare for this exam?
Please take all medication as directed; otherwise, no additional preparation is necessary.