Carotid ultrasound is a painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the insides of the carotid arteries. While the test can be very helpful in preventing a stroke, there can be speculation of some risks associated with the test.
Human body has two common carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck. Each of them divide into internal and external carotid arteries. The internal carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. The external carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your face, scalp, and neck.
The test shows whether a waxy substance called plaque has built up in the carotid arteries. The buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries is called carotid artery disease. It can help detect the plaque buildup, allowing doctors to treat it before any harm is done.
The plque can harden or rupture. A hardened plaque will narrow down the carotid arteries reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. If the plaque ruptures, it can led to a blood clot on its surface which can partially or ccompletely block blood flow through a carotid artery posing risk of stroke.
A standard carotid ultrasound shows the structure of the carotid arteries. The carotid ultrasound test might include a Doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasound is a special test that shows the movement of blood through the blood vessels.
After the test you can return to your normal activities as soon as the carotid ultrasound is over. Your doctor will likely be able to tell you the results of the carotid ultrasound when it occurs or soon afterward.
Carotid ultrasound has no risks because the test uses harmless sound waves. They are the same type of sound waves that doctors use to record pictures of fetuses in pregnant women, therefore the test is completely safe and poses no risks at all.
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