Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound
Ultrasound is an essential diagnostic tool because of its safety, convenience and effectiveness. It produces images of the body's internal structures through the use of high-frequency sound waves, the echoes of which are used to create moving and still images. All images appear in "real" time as soon as the machine is turned on, and the transducer (a handheld device that sends and receives sound waves) placed on the body; there is no wait, as there is for X-rays and other imaging procedures, for images to be developed.
The abdominal aorta is the artery that runs through the middle of the abdomen, supplying blood to the lower half of the body. It can develop an aneurysm, which is a localized, balloon-like expansion caused by having weak walls. If an aneurysm is suspected, an abdominal aortic ultrasound, which provides information about blood flow through the aorta, may be performed.
Candidates for Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound
Although an abdominal ultrasound is recommended whenever an abdominal aortic is suspected, regular screening is recommended for men aged 65 to 75 who smoke or used to smoke. In addition to being an older male smoker/former smoker, there are a number of risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm, including the following:
- History of atherosclerosis
- High blood pressure
- Having had an aneurysm in another artery
- Chronic lung disease