Display Patient Information Leafelts

Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the neck

Date issued: November 2019

For review: November 2021

Ref: B-430/AE/Vascular/Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the neck

PDF:  Ultrasound scan of the arteries in the neck [pdf] 158KB


Why scan the carotid arteries?

The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels that take the blood from the heart to the brain and to the eyes. There is one on each side of the neck. As with other arteries in your body, they can become ‘furred’ up. Narrowing in these arteries can increase the risk of a stroke. An ultrasound scan can identify whether the carotid arteries are becoming narrowed.

What is an Ultrasound or Doppler scan?

Ultrasound scans use very high frequency sound waves to build up pictures of inside the body. It is most commonly known as the type of scan used to look at unborn babies. It does not use any form of radiation and is considered completely safe. Doppler is a form of ultrasound scan in which blood flow is detected; during a Doppler ultrasound scan you will frequently hear your pulse.

How do I prepare for the test?

There is no specific preparation for this test. It is helpful if no jewellery is worn around the neck and a loose-necked garment is worn.

What does the test involve?

A Vascular Scientist will perform and report the scan. You will usually be asked to lie down on a couch. However the scan can be done with you sitting up in a chair if you prefer. Some ultrasound gel will be placed on your neck and each side of the neck will be scanned. At intervals you will hear your pulse.

The scan usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. There are no side effects and you can leave the department as soon as the scan is complete. There is no need to be accompanied to this scan but someone can come with you if you wish.

What happens next?

The Vascular Scientist will write a report on the scan results and send it to the doctor who requested the scan. If necessary, the Vascular Scientist will arrange an appointment for you to see a Vascular Consultant if you haven’t seen one already.

The Vascular Scientist can comment on the scan findings with you but you will be able to discuss the results more fully with your doctor at your next appointment.

Any further questions?

Please phone the Vascular Assessment Unit on 01752 439228 if you have any questions that you want answered before attending for the scan or if there is anything that you think we should know about before your scan. The Vascular Scientist who does your scan will also be happy to answer any further questions that you have.

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