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Carotid duplex

Contents of this page:


Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the left artery
Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the left artery
Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the right artery
Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the right artery
Carotid duplex
Carotid duplex

Alternative Names    Return to top

Scan - carotid duplex; Carotid ultrasound

Definition    Return to top

Carotid duplex is a procedure that uses ultrasound to look for blood clots, plaque build up, and other blood flow problems in the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are located in the neck. They supply blood to the brain.

See also: Stroke secondary to carotid stenosis

How the Test is Performed    Return to top

The test is done in a vascular lab or radiology department of a hospital. You will be asked to lay on your back. Your head will be supported to prevent it from moving.

The health care provider applies a water-soluble gel on your skin and gently runs a handheld device called a transducer over the area of the carotid arteries in your neck. The devices sends high-frequency sound waves to the arteries in your neck. The gel helps transmit the sound waves. The sound waves bounce off the blood vessels and form images of their structure.

How to Prepare for the Test    Return to top

No preparation is necessary.

How the Test Will Feel    Return to top

The test is noninvasive and painless.

Why the Test is Performed    Return to top

The test checks blood flow in the carotid arteries. It can detect:

Your doctor may order this test if you have had a:

You may also have this test:

Normal Results    Return to top

A normal result means there is no problem with the blood flow in the carotid arteries. The artery is free of any blockage, narrowing, or other problem.

Note: Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean    Return to top

An abnormal result means there are disturbances in the blood flow in the carotid arteries. This is a sign of atherosclerosis or blood vessel conditions.

Depending on the exact results, your doctor may want you to:

See the article on atherosclerosis for further treatment information.

Risks    Return to top

There are no specific risks related to having this procedure.

References    Return to top

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for carotid artery stenosis: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement.Ann Intern Med. 2007 Dec 18;147(12):854-9.

Meschia JF, Brott TG, Hobson RW 2nd. Diagnosis and invasive management of carotid atherosclerotic stenosis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Jul;82(7):851-8.

Update Date: 9/13/2008

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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