Abdominal Aneurysm Scan

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aorta, the main artery of the body, which can be life-threatening. While the aorta's diameter normally ranges from 3/4 inch to 1 inch, an aneurysm can cause it to grow to several times its normal size and eventually rupture if left untreated.

Ruptured aneurysms a leading cause of death in the US.  Although an aneurysm can occur in any artery of the body, it is most common in the abdominal aorta and the iliac arteries.

An abdominal ultrasound exam will help your doctor identify signs of an aortic aneurysm.  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked should have a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm using abdominal ultrasound. Your doctor may also recommend this exam if you are older than age 60 with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm or other risk factors, including high blood pressure and obesity.

What happens during an abdominal ultrasound?

During this painless exam, you will lie on your back on an examination table. A technician will apply a small amount of gel to your abdomen. The gel helps eliminate the formation of air pockets between your body and the hand-held transducer the technician uses to scan your aorta. The transducer sends images to a computer screen that the technician monitors to check for a potential aneurysm.