MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT INCREASE RISK OF STROKE AND WOULD BENEFIT FROM CAROTID ULTRASOUND

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • High cholesterol

  • Family history of stroke or heart disease

  • Tobacco use

  • Coronary Artery Disease

  • Bruit

  • Visual Changes

  • Slurring or changes in speech


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 treatment to improve blood flow to the brain and decrease your risk of stroke.

A carotid ultrasound to screen for stroke risk may be used in combination with other tests, including:

Abdominal ultrasound to screen for potential abdominal aortic aneurysm, an enlargement or ballooning of the large artery that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs

Ankle-brachial index test, a comparison of your blood pressure measured at an ankle and your blood pressure measured at an arm, which can indicate blockage of blood flow to the legs

Other uses of carotid ultrasound:
Evaluate the structure and function of the artery after surgery to remove plaques (carotid endarterectomy)

Evaluate the placement and treatment effect of a stent, a mesh tube used to improve blood flow through an artery and support a weakened artery

Locate a collection of clotted blood (hematoma) that may inhibit blood flow

Detect other abnormalities in the structure of a carotid artery that may disrupt blood flow