A carotid intima-media thickness test (CIMT) serves as a valuable data point to understand your artery health. A CIMT is a useful ultrasound screening test for determining your level of atherosclerosis — how much plaque is in your arteries. Your doctors can use the results to recommend medical treatment and lifestyle changes to prevent further damage to your heart and arteries.

What is a carotid artery IMT ultrasound scan?

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CIMTs use ultrasound imaging to assess the media’s and intima’s thickness. A doctor will use the results to observe blood-carrying arteries and determine the amount of plaque buildup in them. A CIMT will show health professionals if you have or may develop cardiovascular disease.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

CIMTs detect increased thickness in the media and intima, which signals an increasingly diseased artery. This ultrasound screening is a critical test for detecting disease early when interventions such as medications, lifestyle and diet can have the most significant impact.

How should I prepare for a CIMT?

Little preparation is required for a CIMT ultrasound. Wear comfortable, loose clothing and leave jewelry at home or remove it before the procedure. An open-necked, loose-fitting blouse or shirt is ideal.

No other preparation is required.

What to expect during a CIMT

Generally, a physician, medical sonographer or physician will administer a CIMT scan, and no special preparation is required beforehand. They will apply a gel to your neck at the start of the test and use a probe to record images for later review.

CIMTs are noninvasive, do not use radiation, and take about 10 minutes. You may need to remove some articles of clothing for the scan.

A cardiologist experienced in CIMTs will review and interpret your images and interpret them following the test. The ultrasound results can shed light on your overall health.

What your CIMT ultrasound results mean

A doctor will classify the CIMT results in one of four categories:

  • No plaque, normal CIMT
  • No plaque, abnormal CIMT
  • Plaque present, normal CIMT
  • Plaque present, abnormal CIMT

Your health professional will use your results to assess your arteries’ condition and provide a treatment plan to help decrease your risk for heart disease.

What are the benefits of a CIMT ultrasound?

Advantages of having the CIMT include:

  • It provides more data on determining risk.
  • The procedure is noninvasive and relatively quick.
  • No special preparation is needed.
  • It doesn’t require any recovery time or impact your lifestyle after the test.
  • No blood needs to be drawn for your results.
  • It uses ultrasound waves, which are considered safe.