A carotid artery ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to generate images of the neck's internal carotid arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. A carotid artery ultrasound is used to evaluate a patient's risk of stroke or other cardiovascular complications by checking for artery-narrowing plaque buildup.
In general, candidates for carotid artery ultrasound are those who are at high risk for, or beginning to display the symptoms of, carotid artery disease. Candidates include those who have recently had a stroke or carotid artery surgery; have an abnormal sound in, or damage to the walls of, a carotid artery; or are suspected of having blood clots in a carotid artery. High-risk candidates for carotid artery disease include those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or high cholesterol, or have a family history of heart disease.
During the ultrasound procedure, the patient lies faceup on a table, and a doctor applies a cool gel to both sides of the neck, at each artery's location. A transducer is moved over the arteries to give off sound waves; the sound waves' echoes bounce off the artery walls and blood cells, and are converted into images by a computer. The images, usually in black and white, are then displayed on a computer screen. If a Doppler ultrasound is included in the test, the flow of blood through the arteries can be detected; blood flow is usually shown in color. A carotid artery ultrasound is performed in a doctor's office, and usually takes less than 30 minutes.
There are no risks associated with a carotid artery ultrasound, and patients can return to their regular activities immediately afterward. Results are discussed with the patient shortly after the ultrasound is completed.
Lower Extremity Angiogram
Arteries can become blocked in nearly any part of the body, not just the heart. Over time, plaque and other debris build up in the arteries which causes them to become narrowed. This narrowing of the arteries because of the build-up of plaque, known as atherosclerosis, affects blood flow which can lead to serious cardiac complications if left untreated.
To unblock the artery, the area with the blockage must be precisely targeted. During a diagnostic procedure, known as an angiogram, a contrast dye is injected into the blood vessels. Using X-ray imaging the location and severity of the blockage is identified. Once this has been done, the angioplasty procedure can be performed to help clear the blockage.
During an angioplasty, also known as a percutaneous coronary intervention, a catheter with a small deflated balloon is inserted through the groin and threaded to the blockage. Once there, the balloon is slowly inflated pushing the plaque aside to widen the artery. A mesh tube, called a stent, may be placed in the artery to keep it open after the procedure and reduce the risk of the artery narrowing. This procedure is most effective in treating larger arteries or those with short narrowed areas, although other types of arteries can also be successfully treated with an angioplasty.