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The Truth About Carotid Artery Duplex Screenings

The Truth About Carotid Artery Duplex Screenings

What is carotid artery duplex screen?

Carotid artery duplex screen is done with ultrasound. It is painless and quick taking only 15 to 30 minutes in an ultrasound lab. The tech will use ultrasound gel on both sides of the neck and use the carotid ultrasound to check the artery in the neck for Atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque) on both sides of the neck.

Why is this important? As we age, the buildup of plaque could cause blood pressure problems, stroke, heart attack, or coronary artery disease.

Photo by WebMD

Symptoms of an Artery Obstruction

  • Lightheadedness
  • Uncertainty
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Temporary blindness in one eye
  • Temporary inability to speak or move

These symptoms may be early warning signs of a stroke. Even if you do not have any of these early warning signs if you have a family history of stroke your doctor may order a carotid artery scan.

Reasons for a Carotid Artery Duplex Screening

There are several reasons your doctor would order a carotid ultrasound.

  • Family history of stroke or heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or certain types of stroke
  • Irregular sound in carotid arteries (bruit), found by your doctor with a stethoscope
  • Coronary diseases affecting the arteries

How often is vascular screening done?

Depending on your family history and your own medical history you may need to have this scan run every couple of years. That will be up to your doctor.

Your doctor will look at your family history, your health problems such as high cholesterol, and your current scan to determine how often you will need to have another test for plaque buildup in arteries.

Who is at risk for carotid artery disease?

There are some risk factors or carotid artery disease. These include

  • Age 50 and over
  • Family history
  • If you smoke (even if you quit)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Overweight

Two or more of these factors can make someone age 40+ a candidate for a carotid artery duplex screening. The earlier these risks are found and treated the better chances of reducing the possibility of stroke and coronary disease.

How to Prepare for a Carotid Artery Duplex Screening

When it is time for your artery screening there is not much to do in order to get ready.

The day before call and confirm the appointment and where you are to go.

On the day of your screening, shower and wear clothing that is loose around the neck area. Do not wear a necklace or earrings. This makes it easier for the tech to apply the gel and run the ultrasound wand over the artery.

That is it unless your doctor or the radiologist provides you with special instructions.

How the test is done?

When the test is done, the radiologist will apply ultrasound gel which helps the ultrasound conduct sound waves better. The soundwaves produce a picture of the carotid artery in the neck. During this test, usually, a carotid doppler ultrasound is done as well. The carotid doppler ultrasound assesses blood flow through the carotid artery.

The ultrasound will be run up and down the carotid artery by the radiologist. The results will be sent to your doctor who will discuss the results with you.

Before you leave after the test make sure that you understand your after test orders such as no lifting or who you should call if you begin to have problems after the test.

Due to this being a noninvasive screening, there should be no restrictions due to the test itself but it is always best to check in order to be sure.

What is the cost of carotid artery duplex screening?

The cost of carotid artery duplex screening and other life-line screening tests vary.

How much you will pay also depends on your insurance and what the copay is. Most insurance is 80/20 meaning you pay 20% however, some insurances pay the entire cost of diagnostic and labs.

Call your insurance to find out what your copay will be. You can also call the hospital or ultrasound lab where the screening will be done and ask what the charge normally is. Often they can run your insurance and tell you how much your copay will be but better to find out directly from the insurance company so there is no misunderstanding. Also, some insurance companies may require a referral from your primary doctor in order for them to pay their part.

EMSITE normally charges $79.00 for Carotid Artery screening and the reading of the results. You may wish to ask your doctor to send you there for your screening, as it may be cheaper than a hospital or other imaging facility. In order to get the best price, it is best that you call at least 3 or 4 places that do this type of screening and compare their prices to Emsite. Generally, you will find that EMSITEhas the lowest price. EMSITEwas built to provide preventive screen and education to the public on diseases that can reduce the quality of life. With education and screening, most people will know what to do in order to stay healthy and reduce the cost of health care in the United States.  

Prevention for Carotid Artery Disease

Prevention for carotid artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other issues consist of the following

  • A healthy diet that consists of a variety of healthy foods
  • Exercise should be done at least three times a week for 30 minutes
  • Regular checkups with your doctor
  • Preventive screening

Preventive screening is important as it can save lives and prevent stroke, heart disease, and other issues that can lower the quality of life. It also provides you peace of mind that you will continue to be able to live life to the fullest and you will not spend time and money in the hospital after suffering a stroke.

At EMSITE, we offer Carotid Artery Screenings (Stroke Testing) to help you gain a better knowledge of your health in between your annual appointments. Book a screening with us today!