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Carotid Ultrasound

Check your risk of stroke with carotid ultrasound at Virginia Hospital Center. This simple test uses painless sound waves to check for narrowing or blockages in the carotid arteries, which send blood and oxygen to your brain.

How Ultrasound Works

Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (X-ray). Because ultrasound images are captured in real time, they can show the structure and movement of your body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.

An ultrasound of the body's two carotid arteries, located on each side of the neck, provides detailed pictures of these blood vessels.

A Doppler ultrasound study may be part of a carotid ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special technique that evaluates blood as it flows through a blood vessel.

Why Get Carotid Ultrasound?

Talk to your doctor about this test if you have high blood pressure or a carotid bruit (pronounced brU-E)—an abnormal sound in the neck heard with the stethoscope. Other risk factors and situations calling for a carotid ultrasound are:

  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes
  • Dissection of the carotid artery, a split between layers of the artery wall that may lead to obstruction of blood flow or a weakening of the wall of the artery
  • Elevated blood cholesterol
  • Family history of stroke or heart disease
  • Hematoma (a collection of clotted blood that may slow and eventually stop blood flow)
  • Surgery affecting the carotid artery
  • Stent placed to maintain carotid blood flow

For Physicians

View referral information. Fax completed forms to:

  • 703.358.9638 (for diagnostic imaging)
  • 703.558.6252 (for interventional radiology)

Related Locations

  • Main Hospital
    Main Hospital

    703-558-5000

    1701 N George Mason Drive
    Arlington, VA 22205