What is a Carotid Ultrasound?
Carotid Ultrasound (aka Carotid Intimal Media Thickness or CIMT) is a simple, safe and painless non-invasive test that utilizes ultrasound waves to detect the presence and extent of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up) in your carotid (neck) arteries.
You have 2 carotid arteries which are located one on each side of your neck. Their role is to deliver blood from your heart to your brain.
Atherosclerosis is the major underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes, and it is characterized by the accumulation of cholesterol, white blood cells and cell debris in the inner lining of the arterial wall. This leads to cholesterol plaque formation which causes blockages in the arteries supplying blood to vital organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys. Plaque ruptures may cause blood clotting (thrombosis) resulting in complete cessation of blood flow. This can lead to a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) if it occurs in the heart arteries or a stroke if it occurs in the arteries supplying the brain
Using B-mode two-dimensional ultrasound with frequencies ranging between 5 to 15MHz, the intima and media linings of the carotid arteries are measured. This provides valuable information about the amount of atherosclerosis present in the arterial wall. This will help our doctor determine a treatment to lower your stroke and heart attack risk.
Cross-sectional illustration of the Carotid arteries supplying oxygenated blood to the brain.
Example of a Normal Carotid Intimal Media Thickness
Example of an Abnormal Carotid Intimal Media thickness with Cholesterol plaque causing narrowing of the vessel lumen and blood flow.
What are the benefits of a Carotid Ultrasound?
- 1Risk stratification for stroke and heart attack
- 2Guide treatment of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
Who will benefit from this test?
- Patients with symptoms suggestive of stroke (eg weakness, numbness, difficulty walking or speaking)
- Patients at risk of stroke and heart disease:
- Routine health screening to assess the risk of stroke or cardiovascular events such as heart attack.
How to prepare for the test
- Apart from coming for the test in comfortable collarless T-shirt, no other preparation is required.
- Avoid wearing a necklace or dangling earrings.
How is the test performed?
- Carotid Ultrasound is relatively straightforward, safe and inexpensive. No radiation is involved, and no contrast is needed.
- A Carotid Ultrasound test usually takes about 30-45mins
- While lying on your back, our cardiac technician will apply a warm gel to your skin above the site of each carotid artery to facilitate the transmission of ultrasound waves back and forth.
- A small ultrasound transducer will be gently pressed against the side of your neck and a live-action image will be recorded. The carotid intimal media thickness will then be measured.
- Your Carotid Ultrasound will be reviewed by our doctor and a summarized report will be provided and explained to you during your review.
How does the doctor use this test to treat me?
- 1Normal Carotid Ultrasound (CIMT)
- 2Abnormal Carotid Ultrasound (CIMT)
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals with reduction in consumption of food rich in saturated fat.
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Cessation of cigarette smoking
- To lower blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar
- To prevent blood clots from developing
Carotid revascularization treatments
- Carotid Angioplasty – Implantation of a wire mesh (stent) to open up the blockage and improve blood flow
- Carotid Endarterectomy – Surgical procedure to remove the carotid artery plaques.
Don't wait for your symptoms to worsen.
Early intervention can save your life.
Heart conditions left unchecked can lead to serious consequences. Seek peace of mind. Seek early intervention.