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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) scan

The aorta is the major artery responsible for carrying blood away from the heart. There are many branches off the aorta. These include arteries that carry blood to the kidneys and legs.

Ultrasound testing (imaging) is used to examine arterial conditions in the abdominal aorta and its branches. One of the most important conditions detected by an abdominal artery evaluation is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). An AAA is caused when the lining in the wall of the aorta becomes weak, resulting in abnormal ballooning or enlargement. An AAA occurs in the abdominal portion of the aorta and is the most fatal form of vascular disease.

What to expect during the test

  • You may be asked to remove some articles of clothing and change into a gown.
  • An abdominal artery evaluation requires special preparation. You should not eat or drink anything (except medications) for four hours prior to the test. The test is completely safe and painless.
  • You will lie on your back while a technologist places a sensor on several areas of your abdomen. The sensor will have a small amount of cool gel on the end. The gel helps produce clearer pictures and will not harm your skin.
  • The only discomfort you may feel is the coolness from the gel or slight pressure from the sensor as it moves along your body.
  • You may hear swooshing sounds during the test as the sound waves are detected.

What to expect after the test

  • If your scan results are normal you may resume your regular activities immediately following the scan.
  • A vascular surgeon will use your scan to assess any blockages or abnormalities in your aorta.
  • If your results are abnormal, depending on the severity your physician may be contacted immediately and you may be admitted to the hospital for further tests or treatment.
  • Results from your scan will be prepared by the vascular surgeon, and a report will be mailed to your primary care physician.

Returning Home

If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician’s office.

This test or treatment is offered at these facilities:

Want to know more about this condition?
Read about abdominal aortic aneurysm and renal artery stenosis in our Health Information Center.

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