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Carotid Doppler

A carotid Doppler ultrasound test can show if you have narrow carotid arteries. Narrow arteries increase your risk of stroke because less blood can get to your body.

Carotid arteries are usually narrowed by a buildup of plaque—fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances. If a narrowed carotid artery is found and treated early, there will be less risk of stroke.

Your doctor may order a carotid Doppler test to:

  • Evaluate blood flow through your artery.
  • Evaluate how well a stent (a mesh tube put inside your artery) is working to improve blood flow.
  • Locate a collection of any blood clots that may prevent blood flow.
  • Find other carotid artery abnormalities that may reduce blood flow.

Who is eligible for a carotid Doppler?

Your doctor may recommend a carotid Doppler ultrasound if you have conditions that increase the risk of stroke, including:

  • Diabetes.
  • High cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Family history of stroke or heart disease.
  • Recent transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.
  • Abnormal sound in carotid arteries (bruit), detected by your doctor using a stethoscope.

What conditions can be diagnosed by a carotid Doppler?

A carotid Doppler ultrasound tests for blocked or narrowed carotid arteries, which can increase the risk of stroke. The results can help your doctor determine a treatment to lower your stroke risk.

How do I prepare for a carotid Doppler?

Unless your doctor gives you special instructions, you shouldn't need to make any preparations. Wear a comfortable shirt with no collar or an open collar. Don't wear jewelry and accessories that are close to your neck.

What should I expect during my carotid Doppler?

A carotid ultrasound usually takes about 30 minutes.

You'll lie on your back during the ultrasound. The ultrasound technician may position your head to better access the side of your neck.

The technician applies a warm gel to your skin above the site of each carotid artery. The gel helps transmit the ultrasound waves.

The technician then gently presses the transducer against the side of your neck. The transducer sends sound waves and records the echo as the waves bounce off tissues, organs, and blood cells.

A computer translates the echoed sound waves into an image on a monitor. The Doppler ultrasound shows blood flowing through the arteries.

You shouldn't feel any discomfort during the procedure. If you do, tell the technician.

Why choose Presbyterian for a carotid Doppler?

Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care has a skilled vascular care team who can provide a wide range of services from diagnosis to treatment. Their surgeons are trained in many different techniques and procedures, many of which can provide you with a shorter recovery period and less hospital time.