For stroke evaluation
Ultrasound uses sound waves, no radiation as with X-ray, to create an image of the
tissue and blood vessels that your doctor wants to know more about. In this case,
the image will show how the blood flows through the carotid arteries which are
located on each side of the front of the neck. These vessels carry blood from the
heart to the brain. Knowing more about the presence of plaque, or a narrowed
spot, informs you and your doctor about your immediate risk and those for future
Getting ready for the carotid ultrasound
You should wear a loose fitting open-necked shirt, and you will need to remove all
jewelry in the area of the neck. You do not need to prepare for a carotid study.
Ultrasound exams are safe, fast, easy, and pain free. You can expect to be done
within 45 minutes.
During the exam
An ultrasonographer, person running the machine, will take a short medical
history, blood pressures and will have you lie down on a cart. Ultrasound gel will
be spread on your skin around your neck to help the sound waves penetrate better.
You will feel a light pressure of the transducer on your neck, and you may be
asked to move or tilt your head as needed.
After the exam
A radiologist, cardiologist, or vascular doctor will look at the images and send a
report to your doctor, who will then share the findings with you. If the exam
shows narrowing of the arteries, measures can be taken to restore the free flow of
blood to the brain. Many strokes can be prevented as a result.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6950