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Carotid Artery Scan

A carotid artery scan uses basic ultrasound technology to determine how well blood is flowing though the carotid arteries, which supplies blood from the heart to the brain. The ultrasound uses sound waves to detect any blockages that may be restricting blood flow. A small sensor is used to bounce sound waves off the artery, and a computer transforms these sound waves into pictures that are recorded and studied by a vascular surgeon.

What to expect during the test

  • A carotid artery scan is a simple procedure that requires no previous preparation. The test is completely safe and painless, and takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
  • You will lie on your back while a technologist places a sensor on several areas of your neck. The sensor will have a small amount of cool gel on the end. The gel helps produce clearer pictures and will not harm your skin.
  • The only discomfort you may feel is the coolness from the gel or a slight pressure from the sensor as it moves along your neck.
  • You may hear swooshing sounds during the test as the sound waves are detected.

What to expect after the test

  • You may resume your normal activities immediately following the carotid artery scan.
  • A vascular surgeon will use your scan to assess any blockages or abnormalities in your carotid artery.
  • Results from your scan will be prepared by the vascular surgeon, and a report will be mailed to your primary care physician.

Returning home

If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician's office.

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