Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound

Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound Logo

What is Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound?

An abdominal aortic ultrasound or abdominal aortic duplex is an exam that can help your interventional radiologist evaluate the aorta, which is the main blood vessel that supplies the body’s organs.  This allows us to look for any abnormalities such as abdominal aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection.

An ultrasound, sometimes called a sonogram, uses high-frequency sound waves to show the abdominal aorta. Using a special technique known as Doppler, it can also measure the movement of blood within the vessels to determine if blood is flowing appropriately.

The ultrasound allows your interventional radiologist/vascular specialist to look at the size and shape of your aorta as well as the blood flow through it.  This makes it an excellent tool for non-invasive detection of abdominal aortic aneurysms and any additional related incidental vascular abnormalities.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening is recommended in men and women ages 65-75 years with either a history of smoking or family history of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).  Screening is also recommended in men and women over the age of 75 with a history of smoking, who are otherwise in good health and have not been previously screened.

During the abdominal aorta ultrasound, you will lay on your back on a movable exam table and you may be turned to either side. Warm gel is placed over the area to be tested and an ultrasound probe is used to image different portions of your abdomen and pelvis, in order to evaluate different segments of your aorta and some selected branching blood vessels. These findings can be seen as a black and white ultrasound image.

During the exam, you will hear the ultrasound machine reproduce your pulse as detected through the Doppler component of the exam.  You may also see blue or red colors flash on the screen demonstrating the pattern of blood flowing through your blood vessels.

The ability for an abdominal aortic ultrasound to detect an aneurysm in someone who has it, known as sensitivity, approaches 100%.  Similarly, specificity or the ability for ultrasound to correctly identify someone as not having an aneurysm is 100%.  Although there are some minor limitations to ultrasound, like the size of the body being imaged, or incidental presence of bowel over the aorta, which may result in limited imaging and a potential repeat exam, overall ultrasound is an excellent, reliable tool for screening.

Unfortunately, despite guidelines, it has been shown that ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm is typically very underutilized.  If you fit the screening criteria described, consider discussing screening with your primary care doctor or alternatively an interventional radiologist.  In appropriately selected patients, screening has the potential to reduce risk of death or possibly disability long-term.


Why choose Fairfax Vascular Center?

While an ultrasound is a simple exam, there are many factors that go into successful imaging and interpretation.  These range from high-quality, updated ultrasound machines, experienced ultrasound technologists and experienced vascular and interventional radiologists.

Fairfax Vascular Center prides itself on the exceptional quality of our ultrasound equipment and team.  Additionally, our center is unique in that it has dedicated interventional radiologists interpreting the imaging, as well as monitoring and changing our ultrasound protocols as needed.  These are physicians who are highly subspecialized in interpretation of vascular imaging and performing vascular procedures.  Geographically, we are among the most experienced dedicated vascular specialists for diagnostic imaging related to the vascular system and vascular disease.  Thanks to our rigorous emphasis on quality of imaging and interpretation, we are able to provide our patients with the utmost in experience and care.

FAQ icon

Why would my physician recommend Abdominal Aorta scan?

Your physician may recommend an Abdominal scan to detect an aortic aneurysm (enlargement of the aorta) or as an annual follow up of an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm.

FAQ icon

What do I need to do before my procedure?

You will be given detailed instructions by our staff before your procedure. In general, do not eat, drink any dairy products or smoke anything after midnight the night before your procedure. Water and daily medication may be taken if necessary. Be sure to bring your insurance card, photo ID, list of current medications (dose and frequency) and any diagnostic testing results.

FAQ icon

What should I expect during an Abdominal Aorta scan?

You will lay face-up on a moveable exam table and you may be turned to either side. Warm gel is placed over the area to be tested and a probe is gently passed back and forth on your skin over the area to create and pick up sound waves, which are converted into an image on a screen. During the exam, you will hear the ultrasound machine reproduce your pulse as detected through the Doppler component of the exam.

FAQ icon

What should I expect after an Abdominal Aorta scan?

When the imaging is complete, the clear gel will be wiped off your skin. After the procedure, you may resume your normal activities immediately.

FAQ icon

How do I schedule an Abdominal Aorta scan with Fairfax Vascular Center?

Before scheduling an appointment, you will need to get a referral from your physician. Once you have a referral, you can schedule an appointment by calling 703.698.4475 Monday through Friday, 7am to 5pm.

FAQ icon

When are appointments offered for an Abdominal Aorta scan?

Appointments are available at Fairfax Vascular Center Monday through Friday, 7am to 5pm. Learn more about this location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?