Carotid Duplex Ultrasound
A Carotid Duplex Ultrasound (Duplex meaning you will be able to see images and to hear and see graphs of blood flow patterns), sometimes called Carotid Ultrasound (C.US.) or Carotid Intimal Thickness (C.I.T.) or Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness (C.I.M.T.), is a sonogram to look at the carotid arteries and blood flow through them. It uses sound waves just like the sonograms for pregnancy, only it uses frequencies of sound that work better in the neck. It is just like the Color Doppler Radar that you see on the weather only at frequencies of sound that work better in the neck.
By looking at the carotid artery you can see if there is plaque and plaque build up and measure the lining of your artery to see the effects of cholesterol and atherosclerosis and, when measured sequentially, you can see the effects of cholesterol and atherosclerosis therapies. It is a very easy test: there will be some gel and an ultrasound transducer placed on your neck; you just have to lie still. If you are able to see the technician’s screen, you will see and hear the blood flow through your artery as well as graphs that represent this flow. The red and blue colors indicate which way the blood is flowing.
The technician will document and measure the thickness of the lining and the blood flow as well as record the images. Your physician will see the recorded images and give you your results. These results can then be measured again in the future to see changes and effectiveness of therapies; you just compare the pictures and measurements. No prior preparation is needed. It is painless, remarkably easy, highly reliable, and very accurate.