The carotid Doppler test, also known as a carotid ultrasound, is a non-invasive and painless analysis that utilizes sound waves to detect any narrowing or thinning inside your carotid arteries. It is also used to identify potential blockages caused by plaque.
A human body has two carotid arteries located on each side of the neck. They are responsible for transferring blood from the heart to the brain. The results of a carotid ultrasound can help your doctor decide on a treatment to reduce your stroke risk.
If you or anyone in your family or a friend needs to get a carotid ultrasound done, please contact us at 770-336-7710 (North Atlanta Vascular Clinic, Johns Creek, GA) to book an appointment.
Why is it conducted?
A physician prescribes a carotid ultrasound for several reasons, which include the following:
- Your risk of experiencing a stroke is high.
- You have a blockage, also known as an occlusion, caused by a plaque, a blood clot, or a similar condition.
- The narrowing of your carotid artery, known as stenosis.
- Your health care provider hears an irregular sound in your artery.
- You have previously had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).
- You have high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, or are a diabetes patient.
Other utilities of the procedure include:
Your doctor may order a carotid ultrasound to:
- Assess the flow of blood throughout the artery after surgery to eliminate plaques.
- Analyze the efficiency and position of a stent.
- Locate any blood clots.
- Detect other carotid artery abnormalities.
How should I prepare?
Steps to do before your exam,
- Fill out the new patient paperwork
- Avoid smoking before your appointment for at least 2 hours.
- Confirm the time and location of the exam a day before the procedure.
- Two hours before the procedure, stop consuming caffeinated foods and beverages.
How is it conducted?
A carotid ultrasound generally takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete for most individuals.
The following steps are followed:
- You will need to remove any clothing and jewelry, as per the physician’s guidelines.
- With your neck bent back slightly, lie on a table.
- A lubricating, jelly-like material will be applied to both sides of your neck, where the carotid arteries are.
- The Doppler or ultrasound wand or a transducer is rotated back and forth across the throat to detect the blood flow. This small, hand-held device records the echo from the waves rebounding from various organs, tissues, and blood cells.
- The sound waves are translated into a live-action image by a computer. The healthcare professional can also use a Doppler ultrasound to translate the blood flow rate into a graph.
Are any other tests needed?
You will need extra tests to screen for narrowed or blocked blood vessels in other areas of the body, including:
- Abdominal ultrasound: This test detects disorders affecting the blood vessels or organs in your abdominal region.
- Ankle-brachial index test: This test evaluates the blood pressure between your ankle and your arm and compares it. It detects a diminished or blocked flow of blood to your legs.
- Cardiac Stress test: This test illustrates how well the heart functions, e.g., during exercise, while under stress. It detects any bad blood flow to the heart.
- In case of indistinct results are unclear, your doctor may recommend additional imaging tests, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and a Computerized Tomography Angiogram (CTA) scan.
When do I get my test results?
Here is what happens after your test.
- On a videotape, an ultrasound technician records the completed procedure.
- A diagnostic healthcare provider will assess the tape to analyze blood flow. The amount and position of narrowing of the carotid arteries, if present, will also be determined.
- Then the healthcare provider gives your doctor a report for further analysis.
- Your test results, along with other factors determined by your condition, will determine further treatment recommendations.