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A Carotid Ultrasound is a simple non-invasive procedure which is completely safe. It is similar to an Echocardiogram except the study captures images of the neck arteries.
A Carotid Ultrasound is done to detect any plaque formation in the neck arteries, also called Carotid Artery Disease, which can increase the chances of a stroke. You have two carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Thickening of these arteries can slow the blood flow causing clot formation. Clots can block the artery completely or partially resulting in a stroke or a TIA (a mini stroke).
Early detection and intervention can save you from having a stroke. Treatment with certain anti-clotting medication will lower the risk of a stroke.
A surgical procedure called Carotid endarterectomy can be done where the surgeon makes an incision in the neck and removes the plaque to restore normal blood flow.
Carotid angioplasty is another common treatment for carotid artery disease. For this procedure, a thin tube with a balloon on the end is threaded to the narrowed or blocked carotid artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. Usually, the doctor then places a small metal stent in the artery. The stent lowers the risk of the artery becoming blocked again.