A carotid doppler ultrasound
is a non-invasive test that will not hurt at all. This test uses ultrasound, which is the same technology used to image unborn children in pregnant women and for a variety of medical procedures (such as screening ultrasounds of the aorta). It uses sound waves to generate an image, and does not expose the patient to any radiation.
The carotids are arteries that course through the neck. A doppler ultrasound study will involve placing the ultrasound probe on the neck to locate these vessels. The probe will be pressed gently on neck and should not involve pressure that will be uncomfortable to the patient. The "doppler" portion of the exam refers to the test's ability to characterize the actual blood flow within the arteries, including the direction and speed of the flow.