What is Neck Ultrasound?
Neck ultrasound is a safe and painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of any unusual pain in the neck area, that is done in a non-invasive manner.
In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels in the neck are generated using sound waves.
Doctors use neck ultrasound as a screening tool to check for narrowing or blockage of the in the two blood vessels (carotid arteries) that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain that may increase the risk of stroke. They also use this scan to check for abnormalities such as cysts or tumors.
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Who Should Get a Neck Ultrasound?
Your doctor may recommend a neck ultrasound if you have one or more of the following ailments or symptoms:
- Abnormal sound in carotid arteries (bruit) detected by a doctor using a stethoscope
- Recent transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke
- Coronary artery disease
- Temporary inability to speak clearly or move properly
- Family history of stroke or heart disease
- Temporary blindness in one eye
- Loss of memory
- Loss of muscle control
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
Your doctor may recommend a neck ultrasound to:
- Check narrowing of blood vessels (stenosis) that increases the risk of stroke.
- Detect where the clotted blood has collected (hematoma) in the carotid arteries that may slow or stop blood flow.
- Observe the thyroid gland to look for growths, nodules, or tumors.
- Check the blood flow through the carotid arteries after a surgery to remove plaques (buildup of fatty material).
- Check the position and effectiveness of a metal stent placed to improve blood flow through the carotid artery.
- Detect tumors and birth defects of the blood vessels.
- Check reduced or absent blood flow to various organs.
- Evaluate increased blood flow to various organs, which is sometimes seen in infections.
- Detect other abnormalities in carotid arteries that may disturb blood flow.
Your doctor may also recommend a Thyroid Level (TSH) test to check your thyroid levels. Your doctor may also ask you to take the Thyroid Ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the thyroid gland. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is Neck Ultrasound Performed?
- Before starting the neck ultrasound, you will have to remove any obstructions to the neck area such as jewelry or clothes.
- A sonographer will ask you to lie face-up on an examination table with your neck slightly bent backward.
- The sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel on the neck and will then take a small hand-held camera (known as probe) attached to an ultrasound screen and place it over your neck.
- The sonographer will move the probe back and forth over the area of the neck being looked at.
- Once the blood flow is detected, you will hear a “whoosh, whoosh” sound, and a moving picture will appear on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer will then take multiple screenshots of the moving images using the ultrasound machine. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
- Once the scan is complete, you will be asked to wipe off the clear ultrasound gel from your skin.
How Long Does a Neck Ultrasound Take?
Is Radiation Involved in a Neck Ultrasound?
No. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Neck Ultrasound?
When Will I Receive My Results?
How Should I Prepare for a Neck Ultrasound?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.