A doctor who specializes in imaging tests (radiologist) will review and interpret the results of your carotid ultrasound. He or she will prepare a report for the doctor who ordered the exam, such as your primary care doctor, a doctor trained in heart and blood vessel conditions (cardiologist), or a doctor trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologist).
The radiologist may also discuss the results of the test with you immediately after the procedure.
The doctor who ordered the test will explain to you what the carotid ultrasound revealed and how the results will affect your medical care.
If the test reveals you're at risk of a stroke, your doctor may recommend the following therapies, depending on the severity of blockage in your arteries:
- Eat a healthy diet, including fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals, and limit saturated fat
- Participate in a regular exercise routine
- Keep a healthy weight
- Don't smoke and try to stay away from secondhand smoke
- Take medications to lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure
- Take medications to prevent blood clots
- Have a surgical procedure to remove carotid artery plaques (carotid endarterectomy)
- Have a surgical procedure to open up and support your carotid arteries (carotid angioplasty and stenting)
If your doctor ordered the carotid ultrasound as a follow-up to a surgical procedure, your doctor can explain whether the treatment is working as planned and whether you'll need additional treatment or follow-up exams.
If the results of the carotid ultrasound are unclear, your doctor may order additional imaging tests for more detailed images of your carotid arteries, including:
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- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to produce detailed images of soft tissues in your body. Your doctor may inject a dye into a vein to highlight your carotid arteries.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of soft tissues in your body.
- What is carotid ultrasound? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cu/. Accessed Sept. 28, 2012.
- Carotid ultrasound imaging. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=us-carotid. Accessed Sept. 28, 2012.
- What is carotid artery disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/catd/. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.
- Abdominal ultrasound. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=abdominus. Accessed Sept. 28, 2012.
- What is peripheral arterial disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/. Accessed Oct. 8, 2012.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Oct. 8, 2012.
- Fulgham JR (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 26, 2012.