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What To Expect Before Carotid Endarterectomy

Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Before CEA, you may have one or more tests to examine your carotid arteries. These tests can show whether your arteries are narrowed and how much they're narrowed.

Carotid Ultrasound

Carotid ultrasound is a painless and harmless test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the insides of your carotid arteries.

A carotid ultrasound test may include a Doppler ultrasound study. Doppler ultrasound shows the speed and direction of blood flow through your blood vessels.

Carotid Angiography

Carotid angiography is a special type of x ray. For this test, a small tube called a catheter is put into an artery, usually in the groin (upper thigh). The tube is then moved into one of your carotid arteries.

A substance called contrast dye is injected into the carotid artery. This dye outlines the artery and any blockages on the x-ray pictures.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a test that creates pictures of your carotid arteries using a large magnet and radio waves. Your doctor can see these pictures on a computer screen.

Contrast dye may be used during MRA. The dye makes your arteries show up better on the pictures. (The contrast dye used for MRAs is different from the contrast dye used for x-ray tests.)

Computed Tomography Angiography

Computed tomography (to-MOG-rah-fee) angiography, or CT angiography, is a test that uses x rays to take pictures of your body from many angles. A computer combines the pictures into two- and three-dimensional images.

Contrast dye may be used during CT angiography. The dye makes your arteries show up better on the pictures.

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Carotid Endarterectomy Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Carotid Endarterectomy, visit

December 01, 2010 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.