The carotid arteries are the two main vessels in the neck that carry blood to your brain. A build-up of plaque in your carotid artery reduces blood flow to the brain and can lead to blood clot accumulation on the plaque. In the worst circumstances, this can cause a stroke. A carotid artery ultrasound detects the plaque and blockages.
A carotid artery ultrasound is also performed to:
- Locate a hematoma, a collection of clotted blood that may slow and eventually stop blood flow;
- Detect a split between layers (dissection)of the carotid artery wall that may lead to obstruction of blood flow or a weakening of the artery;
- Check the state of the carotid artery after surgery and;
- Verify the position of a metal stent
- Ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow (such as clots);
- Narrowing of vessels (which may be caused by plaque) and;
- Tumors and congenital malformations.
A carotid artery ultrasound is performed by a trained technician (sonographer) in an outpatient setting.