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Doppler testing
What is a Carotid Doppler Test?

Carotid Doppler Ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through the large carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. These arteries can narrow due to arteriosclerosis or other causes and this can lead to TIA (mini-stroke) or CVA (stroke). This test can help doctors to determine stroke risk and help determine preventive measures.

Why do I Need To Have a Carotid Doppler?
If you have had a TIA your doctor may order a carotid doppler to evaluate your carotid arteries. If there is narrowing of the one or both of these major arteries it is highly probable that the TIA was caused by this narrowing. Additionally if you have had a TIA caused by carotid stenosis (narrowing) you are at much higher risk of having a large stroke. If stenosis is diagnosed there are treatments avaialable that can help open up the arteries and prevent a large stroke.
What Preparations Are Necessary For Carotid Doppler?
This is a non-invasive procedure and no special preparations are necessary.
How is a Carotid Doppler Performed?
The ultrasound technician will apply a jelly like substance to both sides of your neck. This helps lubricate the skin and allow the ultrasound sensor to move more freely on your skin. The sensor is moved back and forth over the neck area where the carotid arteries are located. The senor generates sound waves that bounce off the arteries. The echo that bounces back is measured and the changes in frequency can measure the flow of blood. The flow will be different in areas that are narrowed.
What Can I Expect After I Have After a Carotid Doppler?
This test takes an average of 15 - 30 minutes for most people, though it can vary for some. Once the test is completed you will be free to resume normal activities with no restrictions.
When Will the Results of a Carotid Doppler Be Ready?
The completed test is recorded on a videotape by the ultrasound technician. The tape is reviewed by a diagnostic radiologist who measures the blood flow and determines the amount and location of any narrowing of the carotid arteries. The radiologist will send a report to your doctor. The results should be available within a few days at most.
What are the Next Steps After Carotid Doppler?
Your doctor will review the written report provided by the radiologist. Further treatment recommendations will be based on the results of this test along with other factors as determined by your individual condition. One procedure that may be recommended is a carotid endarterectomy. This surgical procedure is done to open up constricted arteries and increase blood flow to the brain. There are other treatments that may also be recommended.
Why Doppler ultrasound
  • Detect blood clots and blocked or narrowed blood vessels in almost any part of the body, especially in the neck, arms, and legs. Blocked or narrowed arteries of the neck can cause dizziness, loss of vision, paralysis, weakness, numbness, or other symptoms of a stroke. Blood clots in the deep veins of the leg can cause leg pain and swelling and can increase a person's risk of pulmonary embolism.
  • Evaluate leg pain that may be caused by intermittent claudication, a condition caused by atherosclerosis of the lower extremities.
  • Evaluate blood flow after a stroke or other condition that might be caused by a problem with blood flow. Evaluation of a stroke can be done through a technique called transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound.
  • Evaluate abnormal veins causing varicose veins or other problems.
  • Map veins that may be used for blood vessel grafts. It also can evaluate the condition of grafts used to bypass blockage in an arm or leg.
  • Find out the amount of blood flow to a transplanted kidney or liver.
  • Monitor the flow of blood following blood vessel surgery.
  • Find out the presence, amount, and location of arterial plaque. Plaque in the carotid arteries can reduce blood flow to the brain and may increase the risk of stroke.
  • Guide treatment such as laser or radiofrequency ablation of abnormal veins.
  • Check the health of a fetus. Blood flow in the umbilical cord, through the placenta, or in the heart and brain of the fetus may be checked. This test can show if the fetus is getting enough oxygen and nutrients. Doppler ultrasound may be used to guide decisions during pregnancy when:
    • The fetus is smaller than normal for his or her gestational age (fetal growth restriction). Blood flow through the large blood vessel in the umbilical cord (the umbilical artery) can be looked at.
    • Rh sensitization has occurred. Blood flow through a blood vessel in the brain (the middle cerebral artery, or MCA) can be used to monitor fetal health.
    • The mother has other problems, such as preeclampsia or sickle cell disease.
A transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) may be used in children with sickle cell disease to evaluate their risk of stroke. In adults, TCD can be used to evaluate blood flow and vessel spasms in the brain.
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