Scan of the carotid arteries

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If you have had symptoms of a TIA (mini stroke) or stroke, your doctor may send you to the Vascular Lab for an ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries, located either side of your neck. The carotid arteries supply the brain and the eyes with blood, and if they become narrowed or blocked, symptoms of TIA or stroke can occur, due to a reduction of blood flow to the affected area.

What are the symptoms of TIA/ stroke?

  • Weakness/ tingling down one side of the body or face
  • Drooping of the face/ mouth at one side
  • Disturbed vision of one or both of the eyes
  • Altered speech
  • Difficulty saying words, or the inability to follow commands

During the test, some cool gel will be applied to your neck, and the Vascular Scientist will image your carotid arteries with ultrasound. They will assess your arteries looking for any narrowed or blocked regions, and listen to the blood flow to check for any abnormalities.

What happens if there is a narrowing or blockage in my carotid artery?

If there is a very significant narrowing of the carotid artery which the consultant thinks is causing a problem, the doctors may decide the narrowing needs to be removed, which involves an operation to clean out the artery. If there is a narrowing which appears less significant, the doctor may wish you to come back to the vascular lab for repeat scans to monitor any changes over time.

Diagram of the Carotid Arteries