Carotid Duplex Ultrasound | MedStar Health

Assessing blood flow through the arteries that carry blood to the brain

A duplex ultrasound combines a traditional ultrasound, which uses sound waves that bounce off blood vessels to create an image, and Doppler ultrasound, which records sound waves that bounce off moving objects, such as blood, to measure speed and flow.

Your doctor may recommend a carotid duplex ultrasound if they suspect carotid artery disease, in which the carotid arteries in your neck become narrow or blocked. Reduced blood flow through these arteries is a major risk factor for stroke. The test may be used to evaluate an unusual sound heard during a physical exam or as preoperative evaluation before surgery.

What to expect during a carotid duplex ultrasound

During the test, you will be asked to lie on a table and remain still. A technician will spread gel on your neck. The gel helps transmit the sound waves to the ultrasound wand, which the technician will move over the area. A computer will turn the sound waves into images, and the Doppler will create the “swishing” sound of your blood.

The exam typically takes 30 minutes and should be painless. Your doctor will review the results with you when they’re available.


Carotid artery disease treatments

Carotid artery disease may be slowed or treated through lifestyle changes, medication, endarterectomy, or angioplasty and stenting.

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) 

Carotid endarterectomy is the surgical removal of plaque that has built up within one of the large blood vessels in your neck that supply the brain with blood.

Carotid artery stenting (CAS)  

Carotid artery stenting is a minimally invasive procedure in which a small mesh tube is placed in a narrowed artery to support and keep it open.

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) 

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) helps the heart pump blood more effectively during end-stage heart failure.


Thrombolysis, also known as thrombolytic therapy, is a treatment to dissolve or break up dangerous blood clots that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions.

Our providers

Dr Brian Case listens to the heart of a patient during an office visit at MedStar Health. Both people are wearing masks.

Expert cardiology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our vascular surgeons.

Additional information

Vascular and Endovascular Program

Partner with a recognized leader in offering care ranging from straightforward vascular disease to the most complex vascular disorders.

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