A carotid ultrasound is a painless and harmless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the carotid arteries to show how blood flows through them. This test can detect carotid artery disease, which is a buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries.
During this test, you lie on your back on an exam table while a doctor applies a gel on your neck where your carotid arteries are located. The gel helps ultrasound waves reach the arteries. The doctor then puts a device called a transducer against different spots on your neck. The transducer sends and receives ultrasound waves that are used to create the images.
A vascular ultrasound is a similar procedure that is used to examine the circulation in the blood vessels in the body and can identify blockages and detect blood clots.