Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound

An abdominal ultrasound is done to view the organs and structures in the abdomen, specifically the abdominal aorta, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body.

At San Tan Cardiovascular Center, we use ultrasound to screen patients for the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition in which the wall of the aorta is weakened and results in a bulging of a spot in the abdominal aorta. If this condition is not detected and treated in a timely manner it can result in potential rupture of the aorta, which is usually a fatal condition.

AAA’s are usually classified by their size and the speed at which they’re growing. These two factors can help predict the health effects of the aneurysm.

Small (less than 5.5 centimeters) or slow-growing AAA’s generally have a much lower risk of rupture than larger aneurysms or those that grow faster. Doctors often consider it safer to monitor these with regular abdominal ultrasounds than to treat them.

Large (greater than 5.5 centimeters) or fast-growing AAA’s are much more likely to rupture than small or slow-growing aneurysms. A rupture can lead to internal bleeding and other serious complications. The larger the aneurysm is, the more likely that it will need to be treated with surgery. These types of aneurysms also need to be treated if they’re causing symptoms or leaking blood.

Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound at San Tan Cardiovascular Center

If an abdominal aneurysm is found, we will use ultrasound to follow the size of the abdominal aortic aneurysm in a serial manner to determine when to treat the aneurysm. We also might decide to do a CT Scan or an angiogram to visualize the aneurysm better.

If the aneurysm is close to or larger than 5.5 cm, your physician might decide to proceed with a surgical option to treat it.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the test will be scheduled.

Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound FAQs

Q:  Who is eligible to this screening test?

A:  If you are 65 or older and smoked in the past, most insurance companies cover a screening ultrasound test. If you also have a family history of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you will be eligible for a screening test.

Q: What are the symptoms of abdominal aneurysm?

A: It is important to do routine screening since most aneurysms cause little or no symptoms unless they rupture.

If an abdominal aortic aneurysm ruptures, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • sudden pain in your abdomen or back,
  • pain spreading from your abdomen or back to your pelvis, legs, or buttocks,
  • feeling clammy or sweaty skin and increased heart rate.