We ask that you not consume any food or drink at least 12 hours prior to the test. This allows for a good picture of your aorta.
During the Procedure
Generally, an abdominal ultrasound follows this process:
- You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.
- If asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.
- You will lie on an examination table. You will lie either on your back or on your stomach, depending on the specific area of the abdomen to be examined.
- A clear gel will be placed on the skin over the area to be examined.
- The transducer will be pressed against the skin and moved around over the area being studied.
- If blood flow is being assessed, you may hear a “whoosh, whoosh” sound when the Doppler probe is used.
- Once the procedure has been completed, the gel will be wiped off.
What is an abdominal ultrasound?
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.