Abdominal Aortic Scan
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What does the Abdominal Aortic Scan include?
Detection of Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm using Ultrasound
Having AAA screening cuts the risk of dying from an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm by about half
Reasons for a Abdominal Aortic Scan ..
About the Abdominal Aortic Scan
The aortic scan, also called aortic aneurysm screening and AAA scan, is a quick, simple and pain-free test that uses ultrasound to visualise the abdominal aorta and check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm by measuring the size of the aorta. There is no specific preparation for the scan.
During the aortic scan you will be asked to uncover your abdominal area and a small amount of ultrasound jelly will be placed over your tummy. An ultrasound camera or probe will then be placed on top of your abdomen and moved along your tummy. The operator may push a little into your abdomen to see the blood vessel as it is located above your spine. The camera will result in a picture appearing on the ultrasound monitor which will be translated by a medical ultrasound practitioner. The examination itself usually only lasts a few minutes and is pain-free. At the end of the examination, the results will be given to you, along with any recommendations which you can take to your regular healthcare professional. A report of the scan will also be generated and sent to you via your email, typically on the next working day.
Objective of the Abdominal Aortic Scan
The aortic scan aims to check the abdominal aorta for signs of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The aorta is the main artery which runs from the heart, down through the abdomen and supplies blood to the body. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling of the abdominal segment of this blood vessel. An AAA usually causes no symptoms but as the aorta expands its wall becomes weak and may give way. If it bursts this is called a rupture and is extremely dangerous and often fatal. A smaller aneurysm is not dangerous however it can grow and become larger, so it is important to monitor the size.
The abdominal aortic scan is a quick and painless test that is completely safe. It uses sound waves to generate an image of the abdominal aorta on the ultrasound machine which is then measured. The results of the aortic scan are discussed with you immediately following the scan.
In general, if you have an AAA you probably will not feel any symptoms or know you have it. Some people however do experience some signs or symptoms they could have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. These could include abdominal swelling or feeling strong pulsations in your abdomen.
If, however, the aneurysm bursts it is regarded as a medical emergency. An abdominal aortic scan is a screening tool that is a way of detecting if an aneurysm is present in the abdominal aorta and assessing if it needs to be monitored or requires a specialist or urgent attention, allowing treatment before it bursts.
What can the Abdominal Aortic Scan detect?
The abdominal aortic scan can detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the abdomen and measure the size of the swelling.
Why choose the scan clinic for your Abdominal Aortic Scan
We pride ourselves on providing the best quality service we can which is why we are trusted by GP's, doctors, physiotherapists, midwives and many other healthcare professionals.
Our mission of better quality healthcare for everyone is at the heart of everything we do and drives us to do the best we can for each and every patient that we see. Our team of experts have years of experience and are fully registered and regulated meaning you are in safe hands with us.
Benefits of having the Abdominal Aortic Scan
Our private aortic scan is a valuable diagnostic tool that provides a detailed evaluation of the abdominal aorta. The scan is safe, non-invasive, and helps detect and monitor an AAA, allowing for appropriate treatment and management. If you have any concerns about your abdominal aorta or are worried you could have an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), it is important to consider talking with your doctor and booking your private aortic scan today.
Why do I need a Abdominal Aortic Scan
You may wish to consider having an abdominal aortic aneurysm scan (AAA test) if you have pre-existing risk factors such as being over 65, overweight, suffering with high blood pressure or heart disease or you may have a family history of AAA. You may also be experiencing symptoms of an AAA, however an AAA does not typically cause any obvious symptoms and is often only picked up during screening or tests carried out for other reasons.
Symptoms for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Most people will have no obvious symptoms however some will have
- a pulsing sensation in the abdomen
- abdominal pain that persists and does not go away
- lower back pain that does not go away
If an AAA bursts, it can cause
- sudden and severe abdominal or lower back pain
- sweaty, pale and clammy skin
- a fast heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- fainting or passing out
What does the Abdominal Aortic Scan involve?
During the scan, you will be asked to uncover the area being scanned, hence we advise to wear suitable loose clothing and a small amount of ultrasound gel will be placed over your skin.
An ultrasound camera (‘probe’) will then be placed on top and moved along and around the area. This results in a picture appearing on the ultrasound monitor and patient TV which will be translated by the clinical specialist/ medical practitioner.
The ultrasound scan itself usually lasts around 10-15 minutes and is pain-free. At the end of the scan, a verbal summary of the results will be provided, as well as your opportunity to ask any questions.
How do I prepare*
- No specific preparation is required for this scan.
Abdominal Aortic Scan FAQ's
What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
The aorta is the main artery which runs from the heart, down through the abdomen and supplies blood to the body.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling of the abdominal segment of this vessel. An AAA usually causes no symptoms but as the aorta expands its wall becomes weak and may give way. If it bursts this is called a rupture and is extremely dangerous and usually fatal. A smaller aneurysm is not dangerous however it can grow and become larger, so it is important to monitor the size.
Approximately 6,000 people in England & Wales die every year from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (source: NHS Abdominal Aneurysm Screening Programme). Around 8 out of 10 people with a ruptured AAA either die before they reach the hospital or do not survive the surgery.
A simple & quick ultrasound scan can detect an aneurysm with instant results. If an aneurysm is found, you will need to be regularly monitored to check it does not get dangerously larger & can be managed by your clinician reducing negative outcomes.
AAA’s are more common in people aged over 65, in particular men. Therefore, this scan is essential for people who fall into this high-risk category.
Who is at Risk for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?
You are at an increased risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- All men aged 65 years of age or over
- Women aged 70 years or over
- A smoker or previously smoked
- High blood pressure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- High blood cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
Is an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Dangerous?
In a nutshell yes it can be potentially life-threatening if you have a large aneurysm. Approximately 6,000 people in England & Wales die every year from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms and around 8 out of 10 people with a ruptured AAA either die before they reach the hospital or do not survive the surgery (NHS).
However, screening helps detect AAA’s early whereby the appropriate care and surveillance can be provided.
Treatment for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
The treatment for the abdominal aortic aneurysm depends on how large it is and may not always be needed straight away, especially if the risk of it bursting is very low. Typically treatment is:
- Small AAA (3cm – 4.4cm) – yearly ultrasound scans to check if it is getting larger.
- Medium AAA (4.5cm – 5.4cm) – ultrasound scans every 3 months to check if it is getting larger.
- Large AAA (5.5cm or more) – surgery to stop it from getting larger or bursting is usually recommended.
More information about the Abdominal Aortic Scan
To find out more about this scan and the areas / organs that are scanned as part of as well as ultrasound in general, you can head over to our knowledge centre by clicking the image or button.
- We will require details of your GP / Health Care Professional, which may be requested before or at the time of the scan.
- This scan requires access to the area of interest; therefore, it is recommended to wear loose clothing to facilitate this process.
- Study images may be available at an additional charge – more information and to request this can be found by clicking here.
- All our first line ultrasound scans are optional. You must be at least 16 years old and you should have no existing medical condition or treatment pending that relates to the scan you are booking. If you are in any doubt about having any type of scan, you should consult your GP.