It is a diagnostic method that is performed using equipment called an echocardiograph, which works based on the physical principles of ultrasound (very high frequency sounds not perceived by the human ear). The equipment emits ultrasonic sound waves that, when entering the neck, collide with the carotid arteries located on the sides, and are reflected immediately, becoming an animated image, which allows its caliber to be determined. In this way, the existence of atherosclerotic plaques that narrow the artery and reduce the blood flow that reaches the brain are detected early, helping to predict the risk of having diseases such as an Acute Myocardial Infarction or a Cerebrovascular Accident.
This test is recommended for patients who have risk factors such as:
- Advanced age.
- Arterial hypertension.
- High cholesterol.
- Family history of stroke or heart disease.
It can also be performed in patients with:
- Bruit in the carotid artery.
- Abnormal sound in the neck perceived with the stethoscope.
- Scheduled coronary artery bypass surgery.
- Blood clot that can reduce and eventually stop blood flow.
- Monitoring of the status of the carotid artery after surgery to restore blood flow.
- Control of the status of an implanted metal stent to maintain blood flow in the carotid artery.
To perform the procedure, the patient lies on his back on a table, a water-based gel is applied to the neck, in the area of the carotid artery, to help with the transmission of sound waves through the transducer, which is pressed firmly against the neck in various places, sweeping the area of interest or changing the angle of the sound beam from one place to another to better see the area of interest