Society for Vascular Surgery

View all recommendations from this society

Released January 29, 2015; updated July 1, 2016

Avoid use of ultrasound for routine surveillance of carotid arteries in the asymptomatic healthy population.

The presence of a bruit alone does not warrant serial duplex ultrasounds in low-risk, asymptomatic patients, unless significant stenosis is found on the initial duplex ultrasound.

The presence of asymptomatic severe carotid artery disease in the general population yields a risk of neurologic events which is <2%. Even in patients who have a bruit, if no other risk factors exist, the incidence is only 2%. Age (over 65), coronary artery disease, need for coronary bypass, symptomatic lower extremity arterial occlusive disease, history of tobacco use and high cholesterol would be appropriate risk factors to prompt ultrasound in patients with a bruit. Otherwise, these ultrasounds may prompt unnecessary and more expensive and invasive tests, or even unnecessary surgery. In general population-based studies, the prevalence of severe carotid stenosis is not high enough to make bruit alone an indication for carotid screening. With these facts in mind, screening should be pursued only if a bruit is associated with other risk factors for stenosis and stroke, or if the primary care physician determines you are at increased risk for carotid artery occlusive disease.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) formed a task force to gather initial recommendations for a list of procedures that should not be performed, performed rarely or performed only under certain circumstances. These draft recommendations were then sent to the Public and Professional Outreach Committee, which refined them before presenting them to its reporting council, the Clinical Practice Council. The Council reviewed the citations and ensured all recommendations aligned with SVS Clinical Practice Guidelines before submitting them to the Executive Committee of the SVS Board of Directors for approval. You can review the society’s conflict of interest and disclosure policy at


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Forsyth, Alexandra et al. Single-Center Retrospective Review of Carotid Ultrasound Indications and Outcomes. Journal of Vascular Surgery, Volume 74, Issue 3, e191

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