Who is the ultrasound scan of the vessels of the head and neck indicated: how is it done, what does the result of the study mean?

Nerve cells in the brain are extremely sensitive to lack of oxygen. Even a slight disruption of the blood supply can lead to serious neurological problems. The carotid arteries that run along the lateral surface of the neck on both sides and the vertebral arteries located on the sides of the spinal column deliver blood to the brain.

Today, there is a safe and painless way to assess their condition – to conduct an ultrasound examination.

What is USDG of the vessels of the neck and head

Doppler ultrasound is an instrumental examination method using ultrasound.

Ultrasonic waves are able to penetrate the tissues of the body and be reflected from structures of different density, which is recorded by a special sensor. The signals from the sensor are processed by a computer and the doctor sees on the monitor an image of organs and internal environments.

Doppler ultrasound is an additional function of ultrasound diagnostics that allows you to evaluate the nature and speed of blood flow in the arteries and veins.

If blood moves towards the sensor, the computer colors it red in the image. If in the opposite direction, then blue.

When is transcranial ultrasound Doppler of the brain necessary

Duplex scanning, as it is also called the ultrasound scan of the vessels, is prescribed by the doctor if there is a suspicion of cerebrovascular accident. The following symptoms indicate such a pathology:

  • bursting pain in the head;
  • dizziness, especially when changing body position and throwing the head back;
  • periodic darkening and flashing of flies before the eyes;
  • fainting;
  • progressive impairment of memory, attention, thinking;
  • noise in ears;
  • paroxysmal numbness, weakness in the limbs.

Direct indications for

Some systemic diseases occur with vascular damage and impairment of blood circulation. Therefore, to assess their progression and the effectiveness of treatment, the doctor prescribes an ultrasound examination of the vessels. It is shown when:

  • atherosclerosis;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • after suffering a stroke of the brain;
  • high blood cholesterol levels ( hypercholesterolemia );
  • cervical osteochondrosis;
  • systemic vasculitis;
  • heart defects;
  • neurocirculatory dystonia;
  • obesity;
  • long experience of smoking tobacco;
  • arterial hypertension;
  • head and neck injuries;
  • ischemic heart disease.

All people over 55 years old should undergo an ultrasound scan of the vessels once a year if their closest relatives have had a heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis or hypertension. This indicates a hereditary predisposition and a high risk of developing such conditions.


The study does not violate the integrity of tissues, is painless and does not have a negative effect on the body. Therefore, there are no absolute contraindications to its implementation.

Difficulties arise only if a person, for some reason, cannot take the position necessary for research.

Examination in children

An ultrasound examination is mandatory for all babies at the age of 1 month. This allows at the earliest stages to identify the violation of the blood supply to the brain and correct it. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, such a condition will lead to serious neurological problems and impaired intelligence in the child.

For older children, vascular ultrasound is prescribed for complaints of pain in the head, rapid fatigue, mental retardation, and decreased attention and memory. The study allows you to prescribe a suitable therapy and improve the condition of the child.

What does ultrasound show?

During the study, the doctor can determine the places of vasoconstriction, the condition of their walls, the direction of blood flow and its speed. With atherosclerosis, it is possible to identify the location of cholesterol plaques, the presence of a blood clot on them. Thickening of the walls of the arteries and a decrease in their elasticity occurs with hypertension.

A change in the direction of blood flow occurs with various obstacles in its path, stratification of the artery wall, the formation of an aneurysm – a saccular protrusion of the vessel.

If the outflow of blood from the brain is impaired, dilated veins will be found, in which the blood flow velocity is significantly reduced.

How is the diagnosis done?

For the study, a person is placed on his back on a soft couch. A roller is placed under the neck, the head lies without a pillow. The doctor applies a special gel to the sensor and skin – this is necessary for the passage of ultrasonic waves into the internal environment of the body.

The vessels of the neck are examined by pressing the probe to its lateral surface. At this moment, you cannot move your head, talk. During the procedure, the doctor will press the sensor several times to assess the elasticity of the vessels.

The vessels of the head are examined through the thinnest parts of the cranial bones: the orbit, the temporal bone, the occipital bone and the foramen magnum. The sensor is installed on a closed eye, above the auricle and behind it. After that, the patient is seated and the occiput area and the place where the neck joins the head are examined.

Thus, the doctor examines all the vessels that bring blood to the brain and carry it back to the heart.

The procedure takes about half an hour and does not cause any discomfort. During it, the diagnostician may ask you to hold your breath, breathe often, turn your head. This is necessary for the best image accuracy and assessment of the functional state of the vessels.

Do I need special preparation for the procedure

On the day of the study, you should not take medications that affect blood pressure. It is advisable to refrain from drinking strong coffee, nicotine and alcohol – all these substances change the state of the vascular bed and can distort the research results.

Decrypting data

Normal results of ultrasound examination of the vessels of the neck and head are as follows:

  • the common carotid artery (CCA) departs from the aorta to the left, from the brachiocephalic trunk to the right ;
  • spectral wave in the common carotid artery (CCA): the speed of diastolic blood flow is the same in the external and internal branches of the carotid artery (ECA and ICA, respectively);
  • the internal branch of the carotid artery has no branches before entering the skull;
  • a large number of additional branches depart from the outer branch of the wasp;
  • the waveform in the internal branch of the CCA: monophasic, the blood flow velocity during diastole is greater than in the CCA;
  • waveform in the external carotid artery: three-phase, the blood flow velocity during diastole is less than in CCA;
  • the thickness of the vascular wall is not more than 0.12 cm.

Thickening of the vascular wall speaks of incipient atherosclerosis. With obvious atherosclerosis, the doctor sees the plaques, indicates their location and size. Vasculitis (vascular inflammation) leads to diffuse thickening of the vascular wall and blurring of its layers.

The presence of messages between the venous and arterial bed is called arteriovenous malformation. Damage to blood vessels in the presence of diabetes mellitus speaks of its advanced stage and decompensation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *