Carotid Ultrasound for Stroke Evaluation
Ultrasound uses sound waves, no radiation as with X-ray, to create an image of the tissue and blood vessels that your doctor wants to know more about. In this case, the image will show how the blood flows through the carotid arteries which are located on each side of the front of the neck. These vessels carry blood from the heart to the brain. Knowing more about the presence of plaque, or a narrowed spot, informs you and your doctor about your immediate risk and those for future problems.
Getting ready for the carotid ultrasound
You should wear a loose fitting open-necked shirt, and you will need to remove all jewelry in the area of the neck. You do not need to prepare for a carotid study. Ultrasound exams are safe, fast, easy, and pain free. You can expect to be done within 45 minutes.
During the exam
An ultrasonographer, person running the machine, will take a short medical history, blood pressures and will have you lie down on a cart. Ultrasound gel will be spread on your skin around your neck to help the sound waves penetrate better. You will feel a light pressure of the transducer on your neck, and you may be asked to move or tilt your head as needed.
After the exam
A radiologist, cardiologist, or vascular doctor will look at the images and send a report to your doctor, who will then share the findings with you. If the exam shows narrowing of the arteries, measures can be taken to restore the free flow of blood to the brain. Many strokes can be prevented as a result.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/08/2012
Copyright © 10/08/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6950
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