A Carotid Duplex Artery Scan is a diagnostic procedure (study) that uses a transducer to pick up ultrasonic waves. The sound waves echo off blood cells, and give the doctor information about blood flow and possible obstructions.

As a vascular study, the carotid duplex Doppler is designed to assess the health of the carotid arteries– two blood vessels that run through the neck to the brain, supplying blood from the heart. Narrowing or blockage in these arteries could cause a disturbance in the flow of blood to the brain.

The reason for the term duplex is that two types of ultrasound are used, Doppler and B-mode. The B-mode gives an image of the carotid artery while the Doppler evaluates the speed and direction of blood flow.

Dr. Diego may order a study of the carotid arteries if he suspects poor blood flow in these blood vessels. One characteristic sign of blockage (also called occlusion) is an abnormal sound of the blood flowing, which ordinarily sounds like whoosh, whoosh. The abnormal noise is called bruit (pronounced brew-ee), which is the French word for noise. Dr. Diego may hear this sound through a stethoscope.

There are various causes for such blockage, including plaque build-up or blood clots within the artery.

The patient may have no symptoms, or he may experience confusion, headache, dizziness, or temporary blindness. A patient who feels any of the above should call the doctor’s office for an appointment.

Carotid artery blockage is a serious condition, which may lead to stroke or cerebrovascular damage (damage to the brain due to lack of blood supply).

A carotid duplex artery scan may also be ordered if the doctor wishes to evaluate the results of surgery or angioplasty. The test may be used to detect a hematoma (collection of blood cells outside the blood vessel) or other potential problems with the vascular system.

A carotid duplex artery scan is painless and can be performed in the doctor’s office.