Carotid Artery

Image of a carotid ultrasoundA carotid artery ultrasound evaluates the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.  Images are acquired using a hand held probe (transducer) that is applied to the neck. 

Why is a carotid artery ultrasound performed?

This test is used to:

  • Look for blockages, narrowing, or other diseases of the carotid arteries that may increase the risk of stroke.
  • Monitor existing carotid disease or follow-up after surgical intervention.

Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?

Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test (unless you are also scheduled that day for an ultrasound exam that requires fasting).

Should I take my medications the day of the test?

Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.

What happens during the test?

  • A vascular sonographer will perform the ultrasound exam.
  • The sonographer will ask you to lie on your back on an exam table. During the test the sonographer will move a transducer along your neck. The transducer will have a small amount of gel on the end of it. The gel used during the exam is water-soluble and easily washes off with soap and water.
  • The sonographer will ask you to turn your head to the side and will request that you remain still and refrain from speaking during the test as vocalizations interfere with the exam. 

How will I feel during the test?

You should feel no significant discomfort during this test. You will feel slight pressure of the transducer on your neck.

How long does the test take?

This exam usually takes between 30-45 minutes, depending on many variables. After the test, you may go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.

How do I get the results of my test?

After a vascular surgeon has interpreted your exam, the results will be sent to your referring physician and/or the vascular surgeon will go over the results with you during a follow-up appointment.