Carotid Arterial Studies
Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease occurs when blood flow through the carotid arteries of the neck decreases due to the build-up of plaque along the arterial walls. This narrowing of the arteries is referred to as atherosclerosis. As a result, the brain becomes deprived of blood flow.
Persons who suffer from carotid artery disease have an increased risk of having a stroke. A stroke can occur if the artery becomes too narrow due to plaque buildup. A clot forms in the narrowed artery. This creates a blockage. A piece of plaque or the clot itself may break off and travel to smaller arteries of the brain.
Although there may be no symptoms of carotid artery disease, the presence of any of the following important warning signs should be noted. These occurrences may be the result of a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" and are important warning signs of a possible stroke:
- Blurred or loss of vision
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination, dizziness or confusion
- Trouble swallowing
- Weakness or numbness of arm, leg or face on one side of the body
- High cholesterol
- Family history
- Coronary artery disease
Diagnosis of Carotid Artery Disease
Begin by taking a thorough patient history noting any risk factors which may be present. Check for apparent symptoms and how frequently they occur and, take a physical exam of the patient. During the exam, it is common to check the patient's blood pressure and listen to blood flow in the carotid arteries, noting any incidence of turbulent sounds.
If carotid artery disease is suspected, a carotid ultrasound examination is commonly performed. Carotid studies can be performed using an ultrasound Doppler with frequency analysis, such as the Bidop® 3 Vascular Doppler with Smart-V-Link® Vascular Software prior to an image being taken. During a carotid study, Doppler ultrasound is used to measure the speed and direction of blood flow through the vessels. A true peak velocity is given through the spectral analysis of the waveform pattern.
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