Carotid Artery Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosis: Carotid Artery Disease in Burlington, VT

Carotid Artery Disease in the early stages may not produce any symptoms. The first signal you have the disease may be a mini-stroke known as a transient ischemic attack or TIA. The warning signs for TIA include:

  • Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Losing vision in one eye

If you experience any of these warning signs, even if only for a few minutes, you should seek medical attention immediately. If the symptoms last only for a short while, it is still important to talk to your doctor. A TIA is a warning sign that you are at risk of a full-blown stroke, which is permanent damage to your brain.

Diagnosing carotid artery disease at Fletcher Allen

Fletcher Allen’s vascular technologists are specially trained in the latest techniques to diagnose carotid artery disease. Diagnostic tests are performed in our non-invasive diagnostic laboratory located within the Vascular Surgery offices. The process of diagnosis may involve the following:


  • Physical exam - Your physician will conduct a full medical history and physical exam. He or she will listen for sounds of turbulent blood flow in your carotid arteries.
  • Carotid duplex ultrasound - With this test, a vascular technician holds a small ultrasound probe to your neck. High-frequency sound waves emitted by the probe bounce off the blood cells and vessels. The sound waves create an image of blood flow and blood vessel structures.

Non-invasive vascular laboratory

Diagnosing vascular problems typically begins in our nationally accredited non-invasive diagnostic laboratory, conveniently located in the Vascular Surgery clinic at Fletcher Allen’s Ambulatory Care Center. Patients are often able to see a doctor and have a non-invasive test during a single visit.

The lab is staffed by registered vascular technologists -- highly skilled specialists with advanced training in non-invasive vascular imaging and testing. By focusing solely on vascular problems, these technologists bring an in-depth knowledge to the diagnosis of vascular patients.

The lab offers imaging and testing for the full range of vascular problems affecting all areas of the body. It provides two main types of testing – physiological studies and ultrasound imaging. Both are non-invasive tests that are usually painless and relatively quick.  They enable your physician to decide whether additional, more invasive tests are needed. These studies also can identify problems such as arterial atherosclerosis or vein disease.

  • Physiological studies - Studies that measure the amount of blood traveling through the vessels with and without exercise. They help determine if blockages exist.
  • Ultrasound imaging - An imaging study that uses sound waves to produce a video image of your blood vessels. Ultrasounds are used to check for a potential aneurysm, as well as blocked blood vessels in the neck, abdomen or extremities. In some cases, it may be the only test necessary to determine the need for an operation or stenting procedure.
Learn more about Carotid Artery Disease treatments, find a Flether Allen physician or call 802-847-4548 for more information