Simple screening catches a killer
After 27 years on the job, Ann Ethington never gets tired of telling patients good news.
"Most of what we find is normal pathology or mild disease," Ann says, "That's great to know, too, becasue they can take that information back to their physician, and he can continue to monitor that."
Ann is also greatful when she catches a problem during one of these tests called carotid ultrasound screening.
"What it does is looks for blockage in the arteries in your neck. Blockages in the arteries in your neck could potentially cause a stroke," Ann says, "We also like to to think of it as a stroke screening."
This is an important tool, becasue people at risk for stroke typically show no symptoms until it's too late, Ann tells me, "Unfortunately not. Some of the first signs of a significantly blocked artery are stroke symptoms."
If this screening picks up a blockage, it greatly improves the chance of preventing a future stroke, Ann says, "If we can identify it early enough, before the patient starts to have stroke symptoms, then there are things we can do to get rid of that plaque."
Surgeons can remove the blockage, or blast it with a stent, after it shows up on this technology called Duplex.
"It combines doppler, which is the noise you hear, and the image itself. We have the color, the doppler and the image, and it's simultaneous a d we can see it all at the same time," Ann says.
So, as Ann scans your neck, she can hear and see your arteries on the screen; and so can you, "We can see the color, which is the actual blood flow, moving through the artery. We can listen to that blood flow and we can measure that blood flow.
The test takes only about 15 minutes, and all you need to do is show a vascular technologist, like Ann, your neck.
For more information, visit Michigan Vascular Center's website.