A carotid duplex—also known as a carotid ultrasound—is an imaging test that shows how well blood is flowing through your carotid arteries and reveals if there’s any blockage. Carotid arteries are located in the neck and supply blood to your brain. Blockage or narrowing of the carotid arteries may lead to stroke. The experts at the Ohio State Heart and Vascular Center use the latest techniques in carotid duplex to help assess your artery blockage and recommend your optimal course of treatment, right here in Columbus. A carotid duplex can help your specialist determine how quickly (or slowly) blood is flowing through a blood vessel, and in which direction the blood is flowing. If your specialist doesn’t hear blood flowing or if the sound is very faint, you could have a blockage in the blood flow.

Conditions treated

Your heart specialist may recommend you undergo a carotid duplex if: 

  • You have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). 
  • You have had a stroke. 
  • You may have a blockage or narrowing of a blood vessel. 
  • You need follow-up testing. 
  • Your physician hears an abnormal sound over the carotid neck arteries.

Symptoms that may lead your heart specialist to think you may have had a stroke or a blockage in blood flow include: 

  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Headache 
  • Temporary inability to see out of one eye  
  • Temporary inability to speak or move

What to expect during a carotid duplex

Preparing for your procedure

You shouldn’t need to fast (avoid eating or drinking) prior to the procedure, and you should continue taking your medications as usual. If you smoke, you shouldn’t smoke for two hours prior to the procedure. You won’t be under anesthesia for the carotid duplex. It’s helpful to wear a loose-fitting shirt that doesn’t have a high neck.

During your procedure

You’ll put on a medical gown. You’ll undergo the test in a vascular lab, and the room will be dark. The carotid duplex is noninvasive and painless. The procedure takes about one hour to complete.

The technologist will ask you to lie on your back. Your head will be supported to prevent it from moving. The technologist will apply a water-soluble gel to your skin. They will run a handheld device called a transducer over the area of the carotid arteries in your neck. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off the blood vessels. You’ll hear this as a “whooshing” sound. The transducer then picks up the sound waves that are bounced back and turns them into an image on a monitor.

After your procedure

You can resume normal daily activities immediately following this procedure. The vascular lab will send a report of the test to your physician, who will contact you to discuss your carotid duplex results.

Why choose Ohio State for carotid duplex?

Accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL), our Vascular Lab delivers the latest noninvasive tests for a wide range of vascular disorders. We also offer more advanced testing in the areas of arterial duplex imaging, visceral duplex, aortic duplex and aortic duplex following endovascular aneurysm repair. Our experienced sonographers assist Ohio State’s physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of vascular diseases such as peripheral vascular disease, carotid artery disease and more complex disorders such as aneurysms.

Because we are an academic medical center, our patients benefit from innovative research, a depth of medical expertise, and the newest technologies and treatment techniques available.

Share this Page