A patient cannot hear her own carotid bruit, according to the National Institutes of Health. A physician hears a carotid bruit through a stethoscope while the patient is sitting or lying still in a quiet examining room. A carotid bruit may be innocent or may indicate serious disease.
A physician may listen for a carotid bruit if the patient complains of other symptoms of carotid artery disease, according to WebMD. These symptoms are often those of a transient ischemic attack, or a "mini-stroke" that resolves after a short period of time and leaves the patient undamaged. The signs include blurred vision or temporary vision loss, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, severe headache, difficulty speaking and confusion.