Carotid Ultrasound

What is a carotid ultrasound?

Carotid ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the insides  of your carotid arteries. You have two common carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck. They each divide into internal and external carotid arteries. The internal carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. The external carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your face, scalp, and neck. 
 

Why is this test performed?

Carotid ultrasound shows whether a waxy substance called plaque has built up in your carotid arteries. The buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries is called carotid artery disease. 
 

What should I expect during this test?

Carotid Ultrasound is a non-invasive test that can be done in a physician's office or hospital and usually takes about 30 minutes. 
 
You will lie on your back on en exam table for the test. The sonographer will put gel on your neck where your carotid arteries are located and move the transducer against different spots on your neck. 
 

Why is this test performed?

A carotid ultrasound can show whether plaque buildup has narrowed one or both of your carotid arteries. If so, you might be at risk of having a stroke. The risk depends on the amount of blockage and how much it has limited the flow of blood to your brain. 
 

Are there any risks associated with a carotid ultrasound?

There is no risk associated with carotid ultrasound.