Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a condition in which the lining of the blood vessel called the aorta is enlarged within the abdomen.
Ultrasound is used to measure the size the abdominal aorta. The process is painless. You lie on your back on an exam table while a technologist applies gel to your abdomen. The technologist then takes images and measurements of your aorta by moving an instrument called a transducer across your abdomen.
When you go for your for your abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, remember:
Wear a comfortable 2-piece outfit consisting
of loose clothing.
Fast for 4 hours prior to your screening.
Make sure the meal you eat 4 hours prior to your screening is a light one (less than 1/2 of what you normally eat of non-gassy food).
If you are thirsty during your fasting period, you may have 1/2 cup of coffee or tea and a moderate amount of water.
If you take medication, take it as prescribed.
If you are diabetic and are not comfortable fasting for 4 hours, please limit yourself to a "diabetic meal" (piece of toast, 1 cup of any kind of juice and 1/2 cup of coffee or tea). If you are in doubt, please follow your diabetic care plan.
The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It extends from the chest to the abdomen, where it branches into the iliac arteries. The iliac arteries carry blood to lower parts of the body and to the legs. Sometimes with aging or other changes, a section of the aorta may weaken and begin to bulge.
This bulge can enlarge over time as the walls of the aorta become thinner and stretch (like a balloon). This bulge in the aorta is called an aneurysm.
Sometimes an aneurysm occurs in the part of the aorta that runs through the abdomen (the stomach). This is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm AAA.
In its early stages, when an AAA is small, it may not pose an immediate health risk. However, your doctor will want to check its condition regularly.
In later stages, if the AAA continues to grow, the aorta's walls can become thin and lose their ability to stretch. The weakened sections of the aortic wall may become unable to support the force of blood flow. Such an aneurysm could burst, causing serious internal bleeding.
What are some of the symptoms of an AAA?
Unfortunately, in most cases patients have no symptoms of an AAA. For people who do have symptoms, the most common one is pain. The pain can be in the abdomen, back or chest. It could be anything from a mild pain to a severe pain or tenderness in the mid or upper abdomen or lower back. Some patients feel the aneurysm as a pulsating or throbbing mass in their abdomen. Many patients feel none of these symptoms, yet may still have an AAA.
American Heart Association
American Heart Association