Carotid ultrasounds are usually used to see if there is any narrowing of the neck arteries which can increase the risk of a stroke. Your doctor may refer you for an ultrasound if you have elevated blood cholesterol levels, a family history of strokes, TIAs, diabetes or other circumstances.
Carotid Ultrasounds are performed by specialist ultrasound staff called Sonographers.
In most cases you will be required to remove clothing that obstructs the neck. The Sonographer will ask you to lie down on a bed and keep your head as still as possible. The Sonographer will apply gel to your skin and pass a marker pen shaped instrument called a transducer across the gel. This will happen on both sides of your neck to receive the images of both arteries. Once the Sonographer is satisfied that the images are accurate the examination is over. The images are reviewed and interpreted by a radiologist and are printed for you to take with you to your next doctor’s appointment. The whole process usually takes around an hour but can vary from person to person.
Other than the initial cool feeling of the gel, you should not feel any pain or discomfort during this examination.
As ultrasounds produce images in real time it is possible to see the flow of blood through the artery at the very moment of the scan. If there is arterial narrowing or obstructions reducing the flow of blood through the artery, the ultrasound will show it in most cases. This information can then be used to assist with the treatment.
Yes. Ultrasounds appointments are often booked several days in advance so it is important to call as soon as possible to book your appointment.