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What Can a Carotid Doppler Test Diagnose?

The carotid Doppler test is a type of scan that can be used to detect certain kinds of problems inside your blood vessels. What happens when you have this test and what will the results reveal?

What Can a Carotid Doppler Test Diagnose

What is a Carotid Doppler Test?

The carotid Doppler test is a special type of ultrasound that can measure the blood flow through your carotid arteries that supply your brain. Ultrasounds are completely safe and painless, so there is no need to worry about having this test.

  • You will be asked to lie down and pull away any clothing from around your neck.
  • Some gel will be applied to your skin to ensure we can get clear pictures.
  • A handheld ultrasound probe will be placed against your skin and moved around to take pictures from different angles.
  • The ultrasound probe will send out high frequency sound waves (beyond the human range of hearing, which will pass into your body. Some of the soundwaves will be bounced back to the probe as they encounter different types of tissue.
  • The probe will collect these echoes and use them to create pictures of your carotid arteries.
  • The ultrasound probe will also detect the way that the soundwaves changed as they passed through the blood vessels. The Doppler technique uses this information to measure how much blood is flowing through the arteries.

When Should You Have a Carotid Doppler Scan?

You might need to have a carotid Doppler scan if your doctor thinks that you might be at risk of a stroke. You might be at higher risk if you have a family history of stroke or a condition such as high cholesterol. Other risk factors for stroke include being overweight and smoking.

The scan may also be recommended if your doctor notices something unusual during a physical exam. It is possible to detect narrowing or blockages of the carotid arteries by listening to them with a stethoscope.

You will probably also need to have a carotid Doppler scan if you have had a stroke or mini-stroke. The scan can help to predict the chances of another stroke and provide useful information to guide your care.

What Can the Carotid Doppler Test Reveal?

A carotid ultrasound can provide pictures of the blood vessels that supply your brain while the Doppler test enables us to measure the blood flow through these arteries. The results can tell us if there is any narrowing or blockages within the carotid arteries.

If the blood flow is impeded, the most likely cause is carotid artery disease. It happens when fatty material builds up inside the arteries. If enough of this material accumulates it can interrupt the blood flow, preventing your brain from getting the oxygen it needs. The brain cells can begin to die, which will cause a stroke.

The carotid Doppler scan can detect these kinds of blockages in the arteries to find out if you are at risk. The results can tell us if you need medication to reduce the risk of a stroke or surgery to improve the blood flow through your carotid arteries.

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