Should you have a carotid artery ultrasound?
Some concierge physicians offer carotid artery ultrasound with their “executive physical.” This is NOT a suggested test for most patients. The general adult population should NOT get a carotid ultrasound to rule out carotid artery stenosis.
Do not screen for carotid artery stenosis. The *USPSTF found that the harms of screening for asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis outweigh the benefits. Insignificant problems can be found that did not need to be found and then procedures (that have risk) may be done on patients who do not benefit from them. Just because a test is available does not mean that you should have it.
Who should get a carotid artery ultrasound? Patients with neurological signs of symptoms from possible carotid artery stenosis or patients with history of transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or strokes.
What would you do if you had carotid artery stenosis? Possibly surgery called carotid endarterectomy (reaming out the artery). Less invasive interventions are to start on statin medication, antiplatelet medications, manage hypertension and diabetes, and lifestyle modifications.
*The USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) is an organization that researches what testing has been shown to have benefit, is neutral, and which causes harm.