Non-Invasive Carotid Evaluation: Carotid Artery Duplex
What is carotid artery disease?
Carotid artery disease refers to the buildup of calcium, cholesterol and scar tissue on the inside of the carotid arteries (plaque), and is one of the most common causes of stroke. The large arteries in the neck may become blocked by plaque and plaque rupture may occur resulting in loose debris traveling to the smaller arteries in the brain. A blood clot may form there stopping the circulation to that part of the brain. Symptoms of mini-stroke or stroke vary depending on what part of the brain is affected. For example, different parts of the brain control different functions such as general mentation, speech, personality,sensory, and motor function. Identifying and treating carotid artery disease prior to and after symptoms is a key step in stroke prevention either for the first time or repeated strokes in those previously affected.
What is a carotid artery duplex exam?
The carotid duplex is a type of noninvasive ( no needles, dyes, or radiation) vascular ultrasound study done to assess for blockage or narrowing of the carotid arteries of the neck. The examination includes the assessment of the carotid arteries and its branches, vertebral arteries, and subclavian arteries on both sides.
What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease, and what are the indications that a carotid artery duplex exam is needed?
- Carotid Bruit – a sound or murmur heard in the neck when your doctor listens with a stethoscope
- History of stroke
- TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) – symptoms that resolve within 24 hours, such as aphasia (the inability to speak), Dysphasia (impairment of speech), Parethesia (tingling and/or numbness on one side of the body)
- Amaurosis fugax – transient monocular blindness in one eye
- Known carotid stenosis
- Follow up of carotid endartectomy
- Symptoms of lightheadedness or dizziness
- Syncope or “drop” attacks (vertebral basilar insufficiency)
What can I expect during the exam?
The examination takes approximately 45 minutes. It is performed in a private room lying on an exam table. A technologist will perform the exam by taking images of the arteries using the ultrasound equipment. A transducer is placed on the neck with a small amount of water soluble ultrasound gel. Blood pressures will be taken in both arms to correlate with the information obtained from the vertebral and subclavian arteries.
- Wear a shirt or blouse with a low and loose fitting collar (i.e. no turtlenecks).
- Don’t wear necklaces or earrings to your appointment, you may be asked to remove them prior to the exam.
- No other special preparation is needed for this study.
Please call us with any questions or to schedule an appointment for a Fort Myers carotid artery duplex exam: (239) 694-8346