What are the risks associated with Carotid Ultrasound?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Dec 28, 2012
Quick Bites

  • Examine the structure and function of the carotid arteries.
  • Test the narrowed carotid arteries to check for any increased risk of stroke.
  • Sound waves used in the ultrasound are harmless.
  • There are no risks associated with carotid ultrasound.

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.

Overview of the Test

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.

What does the plaque do?

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.

The Results

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.



Post Test

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.

Risks associated with the Test

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.

Read more articles on Carotid Ultrasound



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