How does Carotid Ultrasound work?

Updated at: Nov 05, 2014
How does Carotid Ultrasound work?

A carotid ultrasound can show whether plaque buildup has narrowed one or both of your carotid arteries and reduced blood flow to your brain.

Meenakshi Chaudhary
MiscellaneousWritten by: Meenakshi ChaudharyPublished at: Dec 28, 2012

Carotid ultrasound is a procedure which uses high frequency sound waves to examine the structure and function of the carotid arteries in the neck. There are two carotid arteries which deliver blood from the heart to the brain, one on each side of the neck.

carotid ultrasound

Why Is It Done?

The main purpose of carotid ultrasound is to test the narrowed carotid arteries to check for any increased risk of stroke. Plaque, buildup of fat, cholesterol and calcium and other substances that circulate in the blood stream make the carotid arteries narrow. However, the early detection of narrowed carotid arteries makes it easy for the doctor to treat it and improve the blood flow to the brain and decrease the risk of stroke.

The Carotid Ultrasound is recommended for conditions that increase the risk of stroke include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Family history of stroke or heart disease

A doppler ultrasound is done to evaluate the blood flow through the carotid arteries. A carotid ultrasound may be used with other tests to test the blocked or narrowed blood vessels in other areas of the body. These tests include:


Abdominal Ultrasound:

This ultrasound is done to test the conditions that affect the blood vessels and organs in the abdominal area.

Ankle Brachial Index Test:

This test is done to measure and compare the blood pressure in the ankle and blood pressure in the arm. The test helps identify the blocked blood flow to the legs.
Some other uses of Carotid Ultrasound include:

  • It is also done to evaluate the structure and function of the artery after surgery to remove the plaques.
  • It evaluates the placement and treatment effect of a stent
  • It is also done to locate the collection of clotted blood
  • It is done to detect the abnormalities in the structure of a carotid artery


How Does It Work ?

The test is conducted with the help of a small hand held device called transducer which emits sound waves and records the eco waves from the tissues, organs and blood cells. These echoed sound waves are then translated by a computer into a live-action image on a monitor. A Doppler ultrasound shows information about the rate of blood flow in the form of a graph. A carotid ultrasound takes usually takes 30 minutes to complete.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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