Carotid Ultrasound

Help decrease your stroke risk!

The primary purpose of a carotid ultrasound is to test for narrowed carotid arteries that indicate an increased risk of stroke.

Narrowing of carotid arteries is usually caused by plaque — a buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances that circulate in the bloodstream. Early detection of narrowed carotid arteries enables your doctor to begin treatments to improve blood flow to your brain and decrease your risk of stroke.

Your doctor may recommend a carotid ultrasound if you have medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke, including:

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Family history of stroke or heart disease
Recent transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke
Abnormal sound in carotid arteries (bruit), detected using a stethoscope
You’ll have a Doppler ultrasound that evaluates the blood flow through your carotid arteries.

Your doctor also may order a carotid ultrasound to:

Evaluate the structure and function of the artery after surgery to remove plaques (carotid endarterectomy)
Evaluate the placement and treatment effect of a stent, a mesh tube used to improve blood flow through an artery by mechanically decreasing the narrowing
Locate a collection of clotted blood (hematoma) that may inhibit blood flow
Detect other abnormalities in the structure of a carotid artery that may disrupt blood flow

You can take the following steps to prepare for your appointment:

Call the day before the exam to confirm the time and location of the exam as well as any other special instructions.
Wear a comfortable shirt with no collar or an open collar.
Don’t wear a necklace or dangling earrings.

(adopted from Mayo Clinic)