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What does a carotid artery ultrasound diagnose?

Carotid artery ultrasound diagnosis by Mintmedical

A carotid artery duplex ultrasound is an essential type of Doppler ultrasound used to diagnose carotid artery disease. Carotid artery disease can be common, yet it is a serious condition. This disease is characterized by plaque buildup within the carotid arteries, which causes a blockage.

Blockages can cause serious harm and even be fatal. This interruption of blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is similar and sometimes a precursor to a stroke. Symptoms of a stroke are often sudden and include:

  • Difficulty speaking or seeing
  • Dizziness or severe headaches
  • Numbness in the face or limbs, usually on just one side of the body

Carotid arteries become clogged due to plaque buildup. This buildup is caused by excessive fatty deposits. There are a variety of risk factors for carotid artery disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tobacco use

You can lower your risk for carotid artery disease by living a healthy lifestyle, limiting your cholesterol and salt intake, not smoking, and exercising regularly. These preventive factors are also often treatment recommendations, along with medication if you have been diagnosed with carotid artery disease. If your doctor thinks you may be at risk for carotid artery disease, they may refer you for a carotid artery ultrasound. For more information on carotid artery ultrasounds, click here.


  1. Carotid Artery. Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Carotid Artery Disease. Mayo Clinic.