Procedures used in testing for carotid artery disease include carotid ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography and cerebral angiography. The need for testing is usually prompted by a physician listening to the carotid arteries through a stethoscope. If a bruit is detected, atherosclerosis is usually the cause. A bruit is the distinctive sound (broo-wee) made by turbulent blood flowing in obstructed arteries.
Diagnostic procedures used to test for carotid artery disease include:
- Carotid ultrasound, also called carotid artery duplex scan, is a non-invasive procedure wherein a transducer placed over the carotid arteries emits ultrasonic sound waves. The transducer then detects the reflected sound waves and they are transmitted to an amplifier. When these sounds are hard to hear, it can indicate arterial blockage.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) creates images of arteries through the use of radiofrequency, magnets and computer technology.
- MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) is a hybrid of MRI technology and the use of contrast dye injected into blood vessels.
- CTA scan (computed tomography angiography scan) is a combination of X-ray and computer technology that shows detailed cross-sections of the arteries once a contrast dye has been injected.
- Cerebral Angiography shows the severity of blockage in blood flow to the brain using X-ray images and contrast dye by the use of catheters.