What is a Carotid Doppler?
The carotid arteries are two of the largest blood vessels in the body. They supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain, face, and neck.A carotid doppler uses soundwaves to create an image of the carotid arteries. The word ‘doppler’ refers to a special technique where the source of the sound waves, in this case, the doppler wand, is moving.
The test is performed using only an ultrasound wand attached to a computer that creates images based on the sound waves bouncing off the blood vessels. Human ears are not capable of detecting ultrasound waves like those used in a carotid doppler. Still, they’re just sound waves. That’s why it’s safe to use ultrasound waves during prenatal checkups. Just like the brain of a dolphin, the computer attached to the ultrasound wand creates an image based on the tiniest echoes that the sound waves cause. Then your cardiologist or vascular specialist can see where your arteries contain hardened plaque, if you have a blood clot, or where the arteries have been damaged.
Why do you need a Carotid Doppler?
You would need a Carotid Doppler when our cardiologist believes you are at risk of having a stroke. This can be due to one or more of the following –
- Your carotid artery is partially blocked due to a buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that become plaque and attach to the inside of the artery. Early diagnosis and treatment of narrowed carotid arteries can decrease your risk of suffering a stroke.
- Using a stethoscope, your doctor has detected an abnormal sound in your carotid arteries. This is known as a carotid bruit.
- You have experienced Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) or certain types of stroke in the past.
- You have other risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, Coronary Artery Disease, or a family history of stroke and/or heart disease.
A carotid doppler scan, like all scans that use ultrasound waves, is completely non-toxic, non-invasive, and painless. Your vascular doctor can use this type of test as often as necessary. It’s so safe it can be performed on newborn and unborn babies.