What is a Carotid Artery scan
Carotid artery scan, also known as a Carotid Artery ultrasound or Common Carotid Artery (CCA) scan is a non-invasive imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the carotid arteries in the neck. This test can be used to diagnose and monitor various conditions related to the carotid arteries, including atherosclerosis, carotid artery stenosis, and carotid artery dissection. In this article, we will explore the uses, costs, results, protocols, and interpretation of carotid artery ultrasound.
Why Would You Need a Carotid Artery Ultrasound?
A carotid ultrasound may be ordered for various reasons. It is commonly used to evaluate patients who have symptoms of carotid artery disease, such as:
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Loss of vision in one eye
- Severe headaches
A carotid ultrasound can help detect and evaluate the extent of carotid artery disease, which occurs when the arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain become narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup. This condition, known as carotid artery stenosis, can increase the risk of stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or mini-strokes.
Carotid artery ultrasound may also be performed as part of a routine screening for patients who are at high risk for carotid artery disease. This includes individuals who have:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- A family history of heart disease or stroke
Carotid Artery Ultrasound Cost
The cost of a carotid artery ultrasound can vary depending on the location, type of facility, and insurance coverage. On average, the cost of this test can range from 350 RM to 500 RM.
Carotid Artery Ultrasound Protocol
A carotid artery ultrasound is typically performed by a trained sonographer or radiologist using a handheld device called a transducer. The patient lies down on an examination table with their head tilted back slightly to expose the neck area. A gel is applied to the skin to help transmit the sound waves from the transducer to the carotid arteries.
The sonographer or radiologist will then move the transducer over the skin of the neck, capturing images of the carotid arteries from different angles. The test usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, and the patient can resume their normal activities immediately afterward.
What Does a Blocked Carotid Artery Look Like on Ultrasound?
When a carotid artery becomes blocked or narrowed due to plaque buildup, it can be seen on an ultrasound image as a dark, shadowy area or a bright white plaque. The degree of blockage can be determined by measuring the diameter of the narrowed segment and comparing it to the diameter of the unaffected part of the artery. A significant blockage is defined as a narrowing of the artery by 70% or more.
What Are Normal Carotid Ultrasound Results?
Normal carotid ultrasound results show that the carotid arteries are free of any significant narrowing or blockage. The walls of the arteries are smooth and even, with no visible plaque buildup or other abnormalities. Blood flow through the arteries is normal, and there are no signs of turbulence or narrowing.
What Do the Colors Mean in a Carotid Artery Ultrasound?
Carotid artery ultrasound images are typically displayed in color, with different colors representing different blood flow patterns. The most common color coding used in carotid ultrasound is red and blue, with red indicating blood flowing toward the transducer and blue indicating blood flowing away from the transducer.
The color coding is particularly useful in identifying areas of turbulent blood flow, which may be caused by a blockage or narrowing in the carotid artery. Turbulent blood flow can also be caused by the presence of a plaque or atherosclerotic lesion within the artery. These areas of turbulence can be seen as areas of color mixing or color flow disturbance on the ultrasound image.
How accurate is a carotid artery ultrasound
Carotid artery ultrasound is a highly accurate diagnostic test for detecting and evaluating carotid artery disease. Studies have shown that carotid artery ultrasound has a sensitivity of up to 90% and a specificity of up to 95% for detecting significant carotid artery stenosis. The accuracy of the test can be influenced by factors such as the skill and experience of the sonographer or radiologist performing the test, as well as the quality of the equipment used. However, overall, carotid artery ultrasound is considered a reliable and non-invasive method for evaluating the health of the carotid arteries.
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