CAROTID ULTRASOUNDS & PERIPHERAL ULTRASOUNDS
There are two types of scans we commonly use to study veins and arteries: the carotid and peripheral ultrasounds. Both are non-invasive procedures that require no prep work, as the machine uses high-frequency sound waves to view structures inside the body. When Dr. Tiffany Di Pietro orders an ultrasound when she needs to see the blood vessels and the amount of blood flowing through them, however, each scan has its benefits, so it’s essential to understand them and what they can do to help make a diagnosis.
The Carotid Ultrasound
The carotid arteries in your neck are significant blood vessels responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the brain. This ultrasound got its name because it allows the medical community to specifically look at the carotid arteries. If there’s a narrowing or blockage, it increases the chances that you’ll have a stroke. Arteries clog from high cholesterol levels, fatty buildup, calcium, and other deposits within the blood. A transducer is a small device placed on the neck, around the carotid artery.
This handheld device allows sound waves to transmit from the wand to the blood vessels. An echo is produced from the transducer that’s transformed into an image we can review. We use a monitor to see real-time information.
Types of Carotid Ultrasounds
There are two types of ultrasounds our cardiologist uses for carotid scans. The first is the Doppler. The Doppler allows us to see clear and colored images of blood moving through the veins and arteries. Seeing the movement of the blood in real-time allows us to see both the direction and speed at which it can travel. Traditional ultrasounds are different as they create a two-dimensional image like an X-ray. It can identify areas of concern where a block or narrowing has occurred, but it’s limited in what it can show us. It doesn’t have real-time processing that allows us to see blood movement, which is one downside to this method.
- The scan is non-invasive so that patients won’t need injections or incisions.
- The entire procedure is over relatively quickly.
- Unlike MRI or CT scans, there’s no ionizing radiation.
- We can see real-time results, which is imperative to helping us diagnose dangerous conditions that can lead to a stroke.
While both ultrasounds used for the carotid are good in many instances, there are still some limitations. Here are a few that we’ve discovered:
- The picture isn’t as clear if there’s heavy calcification in the veins.
- The machines can’t scan through dense tissue on those that have thicker necks.
- It doesn’t show us anything inside the brain, which limits us from seeing the smaller blood vessels.
Unlike the carotid scan, this ultrasound focuses on the peripheral arteries and veins. Outside of your brain and heart are veins and arteries that are responsible for transporting blood to the arms, legs, and organs. We primarily use these procedures when we suspect blockages, blood clots, narrowing issues, or any other irregularities in the peripheral vessels. We can use this test to see the blood flow in the limbs and the stomach.
The Peripheral vascular ultrasound requires gel to help the sound waves transmit. The transducer is moved around the area of concern, such as the stomach. The transducer produces sound waves that rebound from the blood vessels. A signal captured by the transducer sends the echoes, and the password is converted into a visual image. We can easily see these images in real-time on the computer.
Types of Peripheral Ultrasounds
There are three types of peripheral ultrasounds that cardiologists often use. The first is the venous. This one is often used when we suspect clots in the arms and legs. DVT can be a life-threatening condition, and we must take quick action to stop any clots from traveling. The second type of ultrasound we use is an arterial. This scan will help us to identify PAD or peripheral arterial disease. When PAD is present, it causes the arteries to develop blockages as well as narrowing. Unfortunately, many patients suffer from pain when this occurs, as well as a loss of limbs.
Finally, the duplex ultrasound combines the Doppler with a traditional ultrasound to show us blood movement in the venous structures. A lack of blood flow can indicate a clot and other issues.
- Doesn’t use any radiation, and it’s a non-invasive process.
- The procedure is painless and safe.
- We get real-time images of blood flow necessary for making a diagnosis.
- The scans can be done quickly, and no preparation is needed.
- When the patient can’t lay still, the images won’t be clear.
- The machine cannot penetrate through dense body tissues.
- It’s not always best at seeing deep vessels in the body.
- There are many instances where we need to conduct further testing as it’s not a complete analysis.The peripheral ultrasound helps us identify risk factors for PAD, which can cause severe difficulties, including limb amputation and life-threatening illnesses.
Partnering With a Cardiologist for Optimal Care
As a renowned cardiologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Tiffany Di Pietro treats those with heart issues such as CHF, myocardial infarctions, and palpitations, as well as preventative care. She utilizes the carotid and peripheral ultrasounds to diagnose and ensure treatment plans work for her patients.
Though these are commonly used scans, she also uses the EKG and echocardiogram to get an accurate picture of her patients’ hearts and help them live a longer life. At Concierge Consultants & Cardiology, all patients get the best care and most up-to-date testing methods to ensure they get to the core of their health issues. When you need answers about your health issues, Concierge is the place to call. Contact us today.