What is a carotid ultrasound test?
The carotid arteries are located on both the right and left sides of the neck and are responsible for providing blood supply to the brain. The carotid arteries branch off into two vessels known as the external and internal carotid arteries and distribute blood flow to designated areas inside the brain. A carotid ultrasound or carotid artery test uses sound waves to visualize the blood flow throughout the carotid arteries and evaluates narrowing or plaque buildup inside the vessel wall.
Reasons for carotid ultrasound?
The purpose of having an ultrasound of the carotid arteries or carotid duplex exam is to evaluate the vessel anatomy. Early detection of pathology within the vessel walls can aid in early treatment and prevent strokes and other complications. Patients who have experienced transient ischemic attacks, dizziness, have nearly passed out or have had episodes of passing out may have abnormalities in these vessels.
How is a carotid ultrasound performed?
An ultrasound technician places a high frequency transducer on the carotid arteries and the ultrasound machine produces a live image of the vessels. The blood flow within the arteries as well as the thickness, diameter, plaque buildup is then measured. Carotid Doppler is able to obtain Doppler Velocity of the blood flow within the vessel and help rule out signs of blockage, stenosis or intima wall thickening.
Carotid artery blockage symptoms
Many patients may not have any signs or symptoms of blocked carotid arteries till they manifest with more serious symptoms. Signs of narrowing of the carotid vessels may be bruits or a murmur heard by a physician while a statoscope is placed over the carotids. Symptoms of narrowing of the neck arteries can range from sudden numbness or weakness in the extremities or the face, sudden difficulty with speech, dizziness, loss of balance and more.
Benefits of a carotid ultrasound scan
An easy and safe method to evaluate risk of stroke and diagnose a variety of conditions associated with carotid abnormality. Whether there is a history of smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidemia or dizziness, an ultrasound can help visualize plaque buildup, narrowing within the vessels and help decrease stroke risk.
Carotid ultrasound results
Results of a carotid scan can reveal signs of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, narrowing of the arteries, plaques, decrease blood flow, and blockage.
Ultrasound of the neck arteries or ultrasound neck scan refers to noninvasive imaging tests performed on the carotid arteries and its branches.