Narrowing of the carotid arteries, located on the sides of the neck, can cause the loss of sufficient blood flow to the brain. When the brain does not receive enough blood supply, it can increase the risk of a stroke. The narrowing occurs due to plaque buildup along the artery's walls.
Plaque commonly forms from cholesterol, fat, calcium, and various other substances present on the walls of the arteries, which over time can thicken and eventually cause a blockage.
The experienced team at Carolina Heart and Leg Center in Fayetteville and Lumberton, North Carolina perform carotid ultrasounds to evaluate whether you have plaque buildup and determine your stroke risk.
Physicians can evaluate for early diagnosis through a carotid ultrasound and, if necessary, start treatment to decrease your overall stroke risk.
Your doctor typically recommends a carotid ultrasound if you have a history of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or specific types of strokes — or if you are at risk for medical conditions known to increase the risk of stroke, such as:
The knowledgeable team at Carolina Heart and Leg Center may recommend this test after going over your medical history with you.
Also referred to as a carotid duplex or a Doppler ultrasound, the procedure is painless and safe. The ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the inside of your carotid arteries. The wave machine, called a Doppler, uses ultrasound waves that allow your doctor to determine the amount of blood flowing through the carotid arteries and the blood supply to the brain.
A trained sonographer, often referred to as an ultrasound technologist, performs the test. However, in some instances, a licensed radiologist can also perform the procedure.
Unlike many patients tend to believe, a carotid ultrasound does not make use of any form of radiation. On the contrary, a carotid ultrasound only utilizes ultrasound waves through a Doppler.
The waves move over your artery, allowing a computer to map out pictures of the inside walls. The computer connects to a transducer that the technician places against your skin, sending images obtained by the sound waves.
Using the computer, the technician can record the results via video or save snapshots throughout the procedure for your doctor to review.
There are no known risks involved with a carotid artery ultrasound procedure. When the technician places the transducer against the skin of your neck, you may feel slight pressure, but there will not be any pain.
A carotid artery ultrasound is a noninvasive and safe procedure for determining the presence of possible narrowing or blockage of the arteries. Call the Carolina Heart and Leg Center office nearest you or schedule an appointment online to find out if you’re at risk for a stroke.