Ultrasound: special examinations of the cervical and cerebral vessels

The Department of Neuroradiology offers several specialised ultrasound procedures for examining the vessels of the head and the neck.


Sonography of the carotid artery

The carotid artery is located close to the surface of the skin and is therefore easily accessible for ultrasound examination. The carotid is often examined for arteriosclerosis and a thickened inner vessel wall and plaques are indicators for the disease. This examination is a simple method to check if vascular changes have occurred, especially in patents with risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity or smoking.

Color-coded duplex sonography of the carotid vessels (carotid Doppler)

During a duplex sonography of the neck vessels the arteries are examined using ultrasound. In addition to the vessel itself, which is shown in black and white, the blood flow can also be visualized. The latter is displayed in color and is superimposed on the normal ultrasound image. With this method, the physician can check the patency, thickness and elasticity of the vessel and can detect constrictions, dilatations, vascular lesions, vascular malformations and disturbances in the blood flow.

Transcranial Duplex Sonography (TCD)

TCD can examine the superficial vessels, but also arteries deeper inside the head. It can be used to monitor blood flow in the brain and detect vascular dilatations, occlusions and malformations within the skull. Transcranial duplex sonography is also used for monitoring patients, e.g. to check cerebral blood flow during anesthesia or in patients with increased intracranial pressure.

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Sonography is a non-invasive examination.
  • It is harmless: sonography is based on ultrasound, which means that patients are not exposed to radiation. Moreover, there are no known side effects.
  • The diagnosis and treatment are inexpensive and quick (30 min).
  • It produces real-time images and allows physicians to assess moving structures.
  • Doppler sonography can dynamically visualize fluid flows.


  • Overlaying bones can complicate image analysis.
  • The procedure is of limited use for structures located deeper inside the skull.

Course of treatment

  • No preparation is necessary.
  • The examination takes 15 to 45 minutes and is usually performed with the patient lying down.
  • To get a better signal, the physician applies transparent ultrasound gel to the body part, which is examined.

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get referred by your primary care physician or specialist. If you have any questions, please contact the scheduling office.

Tel. +41 43 254 41 20
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For referring physicians

Refer your patient for an ultrasound appointment through the online form or through an email to the scheduling office.

Tel. +41 43 254 41 20
Online referral form

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