Carotid Doppler Ultrasound

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What is the test?

A Carotid Doppler Ultra­sound is a pain­less way to show the blood flow and the con­di­tion of your carotid arter­ies inside your neck. The carotid arter­ies are ves­sels in the neck that pro­vide blood flow to the brain.

Ultra­sound uses high fre­quency sound waves to cre­ate images of your arter­ies. These images allow your doc­tor to see whether or not there is nar­row­ing of your carotid arter­ies (which is usu­ally caused by cho­les­terol deposits). Nar­rowed carotid arter­ies are one cause of strokes. This test is often used to eval­u­ate patients who have had a stroke or who might be at a high risk for strokes.


How do I pre­pare for the test?

No prepa­ra­tion is necessary.

What are the risks or side effects?

There are no risks. There are no side effects from the test.

What hap­pens dur­ing the test?

  • A tech­nol­o­gist or doc­tor will first squirt some clear gel onto your neck. The gel is a lubri­cant. When it is applied, the gel improves the trans­mis­sion of ultra­sound signals.
  • A probe will be placed against your skin. The probe sends out and receives ultra­sound signals.
  • When the probe is in place, a pic­ture will appear on a video screen. The tech­nol­o­gist or doc­tor will move the probe back and forth on your neck to see the arter­ies inside from Dur­ing the test, the machine will make a noise that sounds like your heart­beat — this shows that it is mea­sur­ing the blood flow through the artery.
  • The other side of your neck will be checked in the same way.

This test usu­ally takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

How long is it before the result of the test is known?

A radi­ol­o­gist will review the record­ing and the mea­sure­ments from the video pic­ture. Your doc­tor should receive a report within a few weeks of the test.

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Infor­ma­tion about InfoNEURO
Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hosp­tial Room 354
Tel: (514) 3985358
E-​mail: infoneuro@​muhc.​mcgill.​ca
Web site: http://​infoneuro​.mcgill​.ca/

InfoNEURO patient guides are pro­duced by the Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre and Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hos­pi­tal staff. This infor­ma­tion is for edu­ca­tional pur­poses only, and is not intended to replace the advice of a pro­fes­sional health­care prac­ti­tioner, or to sub­sti­tute for med­ical care.

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Con­trib­u­tors: MNH Neu­ro­ra­di­ol­ogy Depart­ment, and Andrew Stein­metz (Med­ical Librar­ian).
Feb­ru­ary 2002.

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