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Carotid duplex

Scan - carotid duplex; Carotid ultrasound; Carotid artery ultrasound; Ultrasound - carotid; Vascular ultrasound - carotid; Ultrasound - vascular - carotid; Stroke - carotid duplex; TIA - carotid duplex; Transient ischemic attack - carotid duplex

Carotid duplex is an ultrasound test that shows how well blood is flowing through the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are located in the neck. They supply blood directly to the brain.

How the Test is Performed

Ultrasound is a painless method that uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. The test is done in a vascular lab or radiology department.

The test is done in the following way:

  • You lie on your back. Your head is supported to keep it from moving. The ultrasound technician applies a water-based gel to your neck to help with the transmission of the sound waves.
  • Next, the technician moves a wand called a transducer back and forth over the area.
  • The device sends sound waves to the arteries in your neck. The sound waves bounce off the blood vessels and form images or pictures of the insides of the arteries.

How to Prepare for the Test

No preparation is necessary.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel some pressure as the transducer is moved around your neck. The pressure should not cause any pain. You may also hear a "whooshing" sound. This is normal.

Why the Test is Performed

This test checks blood flow in the carotid arteries. It can detect:

  • Blood clotting (thrombosis)
  • Narrowing in the arteries (stenosis)
  • Other causes of blockage in the carotid arteries

Your health care provider may order this test if:

  • You have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • You need a follow-up test because your carotid artery was found to be narrowed in the past or you have had surgery on the artery
  • Your provider hears an abnormal sound called a bruit over the carotid neck arteries. This may mean the artery is narrowed.

Normal Results

The results will tell your provider how open or narrowed your carotid arteries are. For example, the arteries may be 10% narrowed, 50% narrowed, or 75% narrowed.

A normal result means there is no problem with the blood flow in the carotid arteries. The artery is free of any significant blockage, narrowing, or other problem.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result means the artery may be narrowed, or something is changing the blood flow in the carotid arteries. This is a sign of atherosclerosis or other blood vessel conditions.

In general, the more narrowed the artery is, the higher your risk for stroke.

Depending on the results, your provider may want you to:

Risks

There are no risks with having this procedure.

References

Bluth EI, Johnson SI, Troxclair L. The extracranial cerebral vessels. In: Rumack CM, Levine D, eds. Diagnostic Ultrasound. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 26.

Kaufman JA, Nesbit GM. Carotid and vertebral arteries. In: Kaufman JA, Lee MJ, eds. Vascular and Interventional Radiology: The Requisites. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 5.

Polak JF, Pellerito JS. Carotid sonography: protocol and technical considerations. In: Pellerito JS, Polak JF, eds. Introduction to Vascular Ultrasonography. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 5.

  • Carotid duplex

    Carotid duplex - illustration

    Carotid duplex is an ultrasound procedure performed to assess blood flow through the carotid artery to the brain. High-frequency sound waves are directed from a hand-held transducer probe to the area. These waves bounce off the arterial structures and produce a 2-dimensional image on a monitor, which will make obstructions or narrowing of the arteries visible.

    Carotid duplex

    illustration

  • Carotid Duplex Ultrasound

    Carotid Duplex Ultrasound - illustration

    This duplex Doppler sonogram shows an irregular plaque in the carotid artery. This type of plaque can cause clots to form, which can cause a stroke. Doppler studies are used to help identify these types of plaques ahead of time to prevent a stroke from happening.

    Carotid Duplex Ultrasound

    illustration

    • Carotid duplex

      Carotid duplex - illustration

      Carotid duplex is an ultrasound procedure performed to assess blood flow through the carotid artery to the brain. High-frequency sound waves are directed from a hand-held transducer probe to the area. These waves bounce off the arterial structures and produce a 2-dimensional image on a monitor, which will make obstructions or narrowing of the arteries visible.

      Carotid duplex

      illustration

    • Carotid Duplex Ultrasound

      Carotid Duplex Ultrasound - illustration

      This duplex Doppler sonogram shows an irregular plaque in the carotid artery. This type of plaque can cause clots to form, which can cause a stroke. Doppler studies are used to help identify these types of plaques ahead of time to prevent a stroke from happening.

      Carotid Duplex Ultrasound

      illustration

    Tests for Carotid duplex

     

    Review Date: 8/2/2020

    Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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