Franciscan Health sonographers and physicians use carotid Doppler ultrasound to diagnose blockages or other problems that could lead to stroke. This non-invasive procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
A carotid Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure that is used to provide a picture of the carotid arteries (vessels in the neck) and monitor the speed and amount of blood flow through those arteries to the brain. Images produced by ultrasound (sound waves) can identify blockages or other problems that could lead to stroke.
No special preparation is required for a carotid Doppler ultrasound. Eat or drink as you normally do. If you take medications, you should continue to take them as normal unless your doctor specifies otherwise.
During the ultrasound, the vascular sonographer will obtain a pertinent medical history and take your blood pressure. You will be asked to lie on your back for the entire procedure. A small amount of ultrasound conductivity gel will be placed on the ultrasound probe, which will be placed gently against the side of your neck. The sonographer will obtain all appropriate images and measurements and then repeat the procedure on the other side of your neck. It will take 35 to 45 minutes to perform the exam. After the test, you will be permitted to leave without any restrictions.
The sonographer will not provide you with any results at the time of the examination. A cardiologist trained in reading echocardiograms will interpret the study and will provide your family physician with a written report. Your primary care physician (or the provider who ordered the study) will typically follow up with you on the results within a week.