Carotid artery shunts are used extensively during carotid artery surgery to maintain cerebral perfusion. Blood flow through such shunts may be compromised by thrombosis, incorrect placement, or inadvertent clamping of the shunt. Currently, however, no direct method exists to detect poor shunt flow that might precipitate cerebral ischemia. A carotid artery shunt system that continuously monitors blood flow rates has been developed. This system utilizes a Doppler crystal embedded in the wall of a silicone elastomer shunt. The crystal ranges through a "liquid lens" that enables it to be placed without violation of the shunt lumen. Because the crystal is at a fixed angle (45 degrees) to the axis of blood flow and the diameter of the lumen remains constant, a linear relationship should exist between flow rates and the Doppler velocity signal. This hypothesis was tested in vitro using a pulsatile pump and both a starch-water solution and whole blood. Doppler velocity meter readings were compared to timed volume collections over a wide range of flow rates. A direct linear relationship between the Doppler flowmeter and timed volume collections existed, and the system was accurate to within 4.7%. This device may be useful in laboratory studies of carotid shunt dynamics and in clinical practice for early detection of correctable shunt flow abnormalities that could lead to cerebral injury.