Carotid duplex imaging is conducted via ultrasound. Unlike resting or stress echocardiograms, which examine the heart, during the carotid duplex imaging the mobile technologist focuses on the patient’s neck, where the carotid arteries are located. The test is designed to show whether and to what degree plaque has narrowed the arteries. Arterial plaque can compromise blood supply to the brain and increase risk of stroke.
Beyond assessing possible plaque obstruction, the interpreting physician can also use the carotid duplex to look for blood clots or other blocks in the arteries, as well as observing other reasons for the narrowing of the arteries, such as stenosis. As with an echocardiogram, Doppler imaging is employed to reveal blood-flow velocity in addition to basic ultrasound imaging. This is why it is called “duplex:” because there are two modes of imaging in carotid duplex scans.
For a carotid duplex procedure, the patient lies motionless on his or her back. The procedure is safe, painless and relatively quick. The carotid duplex scan should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Common indications for ordering a carotid duplex include:
- Syncope and Collapse
- Cerebral Atherosclerosis
- Amaurosis Fugax
- Intractable migraine