What is it?

Carotid doppler ultrasound scanning is a painless procedure that measures the amount of blood flow in the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are the two major arteries on each side of the neck that carry blood to the head.

Who needs this procedure?

Carotid doppler ultrasound scanning is used to evaluate the risk of stroke in patients who have a history of stroke or are believed to be at high risk.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

There are no special preparations for this procedure.

How is this procedure performed?

A carotid doppler ultrasound scan takes about 15 to 30 minutes, although times may vary. To perform this test, the healthcare professional will first squirt a clear jelly on one side of your neck. He or she will then place a sensor that looks like a wand or a microphone on the jelly. The jelly makes it easy for the ultrasound sensor to slide against your skin. As the healthcare professional moves the sensor around on your neck, a picture appears on a monitor. This picture shows the different rates of blood flow through the arteries. This procedure will then be repeated for the other side of your neck. Any narrowing of the carotid arteries will show up as an area of reduced blood flow. Narrowed carotid arteries are a leading cause of stroke.

What can I expect after the procedure?

When the procedure is complete, the healthcare professional will wipe off the jelly and you will be free to resume your normal activities. This test has no side effects. Your doctor will receive a report of the test results and notify you.