Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel to expose the body to high -frequency sound waves. Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound examinations do not use Ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, As well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
Conventional ultrasound displays the images in thin, flat sections of the body. Advancements in ultrasound technology include three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound that formats the sound wave data into 3-D images. Four-dimensional (4-D) ultrasound is 3-D ultrasound in motion.
Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel, including the body's major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck.
Why should I do it ?
- The carotid ultrasound is most frequently performed to detect narrowing, or stenosis, of the carotid artery, a condition that substantially increases the risk of stroke.
- The major goal of carotid ultrasound is to screen patients for blockage or narrowing of their carotid arteries, which if present may increase their risk of having a stroke. If a significant narrowing is detected, a comprehensive treatment may be initiated.
It may also be performed if a patient has high blood pressure or a carotid bruit (pronounced brU-E)—an abnormal sound in the neck that is heard with the stethoscope. In some cases, it is also performed in preparation for coronary artery bypass surgery. Other risk factors calling for a carotid ultrasound are:
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- A family history of stroke or heart disease
- A carotid ultrasound is also performed to:
- Locate a hematoma, a collection of clotted blood that may slow and eventually stop blood flow.
- Check the state of the carotid artery after surgery to restore normal blood flow.
- Verify the position of a metal stent placed to maintain carotid blood flow.
Doppler ultrasound images can help the physician to see and evaluate:
- Blockages to blood flow (such as clots).
- Narrowing of vessels
- Tumors and congenital vascular malformations
- Reduced or absent blood flow to various organs, such as the testes or ovary
- Increased blood flow, which may be a sign of infection
In children, Doppler ultrasound is used to:
- Evaluate blood flow.
- Predict a higher risk of stroke in children with sickle cell disease.
- Detect abnormalities in the blood vessels, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels.
Any preparations needed?
- You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.
- In case of children, ultrasound examinations are very sensitive to motion, and an active or crying child will slow the examination process. To ensure a smooth experience, it would be beneficial to explain the procedure to the child prior to the exam.