Carotid ultrasound is one of the most important applications of ultrasound equipment. The carotid arteries provide a valuable blood supply to the brain. Even a brief interruption in the blood flow through these important arteries is enough to cause severe brain damage or even death. Over time, plaque builds up in these arteries at a rate that is dependent on both lifestyle and genetics. It is important that patients receive an ultrasound of the carotid arteries if any neurologic symptoms develop. If vascular disease is on the differential diagnosis, the first step involves using the ultrasound probe to take a look at potential locations of vascular disease, such as the carotid arteries. Ultrasound can be used to both diagnose and grade the severity of vascular diseases. Ultrasound is different from traditional x-ray and CT scan imaging in that ultrasound does not use radiation to produce the resulting image. Instead, ultrasound relies on variations in the speed of sound through different mediums to produce the image. For the convenience of physicians and patients, ultrasound scans are usually performed in an outpatient clinic instead of a hospital setting. Furthermore, most ultrasounds are duplex images. This means that they produce images based on both anatomy and rate of blood flow. This is important for ensuring the carotid arteries have a steady supply of blood headed towards the brain.
Vascular ultrasounds are usually the first screening tool due to their speed and safety to the patient. These ultrasounds are often used after a surgical or procedural intervention to ensure that blood flow has been restored. Sometimes, an additional imaging modality such as an MRA or CTA is needed to provide more detailed information about an area of suspect. In these cases, it is vital that a qualified physician perform these procedures due to the inherent risk involved with a more invasive operation.
The quality of any ultrasound image depends on multiple factors. These include the skill of the technician, the technological capabilities of the ultrasound machine, and the expertise of the physician reading the scan. Patients requiring a carotid ultrasound should seek a physician with the “RPVI” certification, standing for registered physician in vascular imaging intervention. This qualification means that the physician has the expertise necessary to interpret ultrasounds at a high level. One such physician is Dr. Jenna Kazil. Dr. Kazil is a Vascular Surgeon in Bradenton, FL who works with the Florida Surgical Clinic in Manatee County. Dr. Kazil has a large amount of experience in both reading vascular ultrasounds and performing precise vascular interventions to make drastic improvements in the quality of life for her patients. Patients looking for a Bradenton Vascular Surgeon should contact Dr. Kazil at the Florida Surgical Clinic for the highest quality vascular care available.