What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

How it works

A technician (sonographer) conducts the test with a small, hand-held device called a transducer. The transducer emits sound waves and records the echo as the waves bounce off tissues, organs and blood cells.

A computer translates the echoed sound waves into a live-action image on a monitor. The radiologist may use a Doppler ultrasound, which shows blood flowing through the arteries. In a Doppler ultrasound, the rate of blood flow is translated into a graph.

A carotid ultrasound usually takes about 30 minutes.

During the procedure

You'll likely lie on your back during the ultrasound. The ultrasound technician (sonographer) may position your head to better access the side of your neck.

The sonographer will apply a warm gel to your skin above the site of each carotid artery. The gel helps transmit the ultrasound waves back and forth. The sonographer then gently presses the transducer against the side of your neck.

You shouldn't feel any discomfort during the procedure. If you do, tell the sonographer.

Oct. 08, 2015