Carotid and Vertebral Duplex Ultrasound


  • Carotid/neck bruit
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), Stroke
  • Pulsating neck lump
  • Amaurosis fugax (painless, temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes)
  • Head trauma
  • Pre-operative assessment of high-risk patients
  • Post-operative follow-up post carotid endarterectomy or other vascular intervention.
  • Post radiation therapy to the neck region.
  • Surveillance of known carotid vascular disease

Contraindications and limitations:

  • Recent neck surgery; due to the discomfort from the scan head pressure, surgical wounds with intact dressings
  • Extreme neck girth
  • Very densely calcified vessels may not allow the penetration of the ultrasound beam, although, doppler information may still be obtained in some cases, when the imaging is unsatisfactory.
  • Inability to lie flat. However, VASCAN Ultrasonographer’s, are proficient in performing ultrasounds with the patient, sitting in a chair, semi-recumbent or position of comfort.

Patient preparation:

  • On the day of the ultrasound, refrain from applying oils or moisturisers to the neck and clavicular (collar bone) region.


What to wear:

Loose-fitting clothes, for example; low neck shirt/dress.

Ultrasound study technique:

Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic study. The patient will lie on a bed, with their head on a pillow, with the neck slightly extended, to allow for improved access of the carotid arteries. If this is not tolerated, the ultrasonographer can perform the ultrasound with the patient sitting in a chair or in the semi-recumbent position (lying on the back with the head of the bed elevated). Ultrasound gel will be applied to the neck and clavicular (collar bone) region. An ultrasound probe will be run over these regions. The arteries will be assessed with ultrasound imaging, colour Doppler and spectral Doppler waveform velocities. Occasionally the sonographer may need to apply pressure to the neck to improve the visualisation of the arteries and to obtain accurate spectral Doppler waveform velocities. Images will be obtained, and the results documented on a worksheet.

Ultrasound study time:

30-60 minutes


A worksheet can be available, if requested. A formal written report will be available within 24 to 48 hours, following the ultrasound examination, Monday to Friday. If the ultrasound findings demonstrate pathology, which may require urgent attention, the referring Doctor will be notified ASAP following the completion of the ultrasound.