Carotid ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure that uses sound waves to examine the structure and function of the carotid arteries in the neck.
You have two carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck, which deliver blood from the heart to the brain. Carotid ultrasound can reveal whether an artery has any blockage and how well blood flows through the artery.
Carotid ultrasound is usually used to screen for blockages that indicate an increased risk of stroke. Results from a carotid ultrasound can help your doctor determine what kind of treatment you may need to lower your risk.
The primary purpose of a carotid ultrasound is to screen for a narrowing of the carotid arteries that indicates an increased risk of stroke. Narrowing is usually caused by plaques — a buildup of fats, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that circulate in the bloodstream. Early detection of narrowing of the carotid arteries enables your doctor to begin treatments that improve blood flow to the brain and decrease your risk of stroke.