A carotid ultrasound examines the right and left carotid artery located on each side of the neck. These arteries supply oxygen rich blood to your brain, face and head.
The speed and rhythm of the blood flow within the carotid arteries is analysed using Doppler ultrasound and the internal surface of the vessels are examined by ultrasound to identify narrowing, caused by plaque.
Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood, and can build up inside the carotid arteries over time. Plaque can slow down or block the flow of blood through the artery, allowing a blood clot to form. A piece of the blood clot can break off and get stuck in an artery in the brain, blocking the blood flow to that region of the brain, causing a stroke.
You will not be required to change for carotid ultrasound examination. A v-neck or front opening top or shirt is advisable, as this will allow ease of access to the neck. You will lie on your back during the study, with the neck turned to either the right or left. A clear, warm, gel will be applied to your skin during the examination, this is to enable the ultrasound to penetrate the skin layer. The ultrasound probe is gently moved over the surface of the skin of the neck during the examination, with the sonographer recording images of the carotid arteries during the assessment.
During the carotid ultrasound you will hear the sound of the blood pulsing in the arteries, produced by the Doppler ultrasound.