An ultrasound of the abdominal aorta is a non-invasive, painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves to image the "aorta," the main blood vessel leading away from the heart.
When the walls of the abdominal aorta become weak, they may balloon outward If the aorta reaches over 3 centimeters in diameter, it is then called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). As the aneurysm gets larger, the risk of rupture increases.
Ultrasound imaging of the aorta is useful for measuring its size to screen for AAA. Screening is particularly recommended for men over the age of 60 who have ever smoked and for anyone with a family history of AAA. In addition to screening, ultrasound is also a useful tool after the diagnosis of AAA to monitor its size on a regular basis to see if it needs to be repaired.
If you have been told that you have a AAA or that you need an ultrasound of the abdominal aorta, please call the Johns Hopkins Center for Vascular Medicine at 410-616-7225 or Vascular Surgery Lab at 410-955-5165 to make an appointment. You will be asked to avoid eating for 8 hours prior to your test.