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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

You should ask your doctor if you need a screening ultrasound performed.

What is it?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. People over age 65 who have smoked at any time in their life should have a screening ultrasound performed once.

An aneurysm is an abnormal area of localized widening of a blood vessel. The aorta bulges at the site of an aneurysm like a weak spot on a worn tire. The most common cause of an aneurysm is arteriosclerosis. Smoking is a major risk factor. Abdominal aortic aneurysms often do not cause symptoms. If they do, they may cause deep boring pain in the lower back or flank. Prominent abdominal pulsations may be present. X-rays of the abdomen and other radiologic tests including ultrasound, CT, and MRI may be used in diagnosing and monitoring the aneurysm.
Repair of the aneurysm can be done by surgery or endovascular stenting.