What is a bilateral carotid artery ultrasound?
A bilateral carotid artery ultrasound is a diagnostic exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to measure the amount of blood flowing through the carotid arteries.
The carotid arteries are two arterial structures that are located on either side of the neck. These critical blood vessels carry blood from the heart to the brain.
Ultrasounds are non-invasive procedures that can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, such as blood clots, blockages, abnormalities in arterial blood flow, or damage to the arteries. They may also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a stent - a device that improves blood flow through the carotid arteries. "Bilateral" means that this procedure scans both sides of the body - whereas uni-lateral ultrasounds scan only one.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend a standard or Doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasounds use changes in the frequencies of sound waves to measure the speed and direction of blood flow through blood vessels. Because ultrasounds can show images in real-time, Doppler ultrasounds have taken the place of X-ray angiography as the main method of measuring blood flow through arteries. Regular ultrasounds can show blood vessels and organs in the body, but cannot measure blood flow through arterial channels.