- by Dr. Sunil Dwivedi
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- Feb 09 2017
Diagnosis of ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM
Diagnosis of abdominal aortic is often by chance in patients presenting for examination for another disease. A pulsating bulge in abdomen may be felt by doctor during a routine exam. Aortic aneurysms are often found during routine medical tests. An X-ray of the chest or ultrasound of the heart or abdomen, sometimes ordered for a different reason, may lead to the diagnosis.
In case of high suspicion of an aortic aneurysm, the doctor may order specialized tests to confirm it. These tests might include:
- Abdominal ultrasound. An ultrasound examination of the abdomen can help diagnose an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is a painless exam. The patient is asked to lie on back on an examination table and a small amount of warm gel is applied to the abdomen. The purpose of applying gel is to eliminate the formation of air pockets between your body and the instrument the doctor uses to see your aorta, called a transducer. The doctor presses the transducer against your skin over your abdomen, moving from one area to another. The images are sent to computer screen by the transducer which the doctor monitors to check for a potential aneurysm.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. This test is also a painless test that can provide the doctor with clear images of aorta. The patient, during a CT scan, is asked to lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine called a gantry. Detectors inside the gantry measure the radiation that has passed through your body and converts it into electrical signals. These signals are gathered by a computer which assigns them a color ranging from black to white, depending on signal intensity. These images are assembled by the computer and it displays them on a computer monitor.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).This test is also a painless imaging test. Most MRI machines contain a large magnet shaped like a doughnut or tunnel. The patient lies on a movable table that slides into the tunnel. The atomic particles in some of your cells are aligned by the magnetic field. When radio waves are broadcast toward these aligned particles, they produce signals that vary according to the type of tissue they are. These images produced by the signals are used by doctors to see if the patient has an aneurysm or not.
Regular screening for people at risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms
Several medical bodies active in preventive medicine recommend that men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked should have a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm using abdominal ultrasound. The need for a screening ultrasound should be discussed with doctors by people older than age 60 with a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm or other risk factors.
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