Testing the abdominal aorta and the abdominal arteries

Duplex ultrasound testing of the abdominal aorta and the abdominal arteries is quick, easy and painless and it does not involve radiation. It is also very reliable.

What does the testing involve?

Ultrasound is an excellent method for examining the abdominal aorta and the abdominal arteries branching off from the aorta. During the examination, the vessel wall is evaluated, along with the blood flow in the various arteries, which include the aorta, the superior mesenteric artery and the inferior mesenteric artery. Doppler ultrasound can be used to detect and measure dilatation (referred to as an “aneurysm,” which is not uncommon in the aortic region) or stenosis (arteriosclerosis).

How does the test work?

The ultrasound transducer is placed on the skin of the abdomen. The transducer produces images (cross-sections) of the arteries. Doppler technology transforms blood flow into both audio and visual signals. The test can be carried out in a matter of minutes. During the test, the patient lies comfortably on his or her back.

Who should be tested?

Patients who are at risk for arterial problems, especially patients with high blood pressure, the aorta and the associated arteries should be examined at regular intervals. Aneurysms often go undetected for years and they can be fatal, for instance, if an aortic aneurysm ruptures. After surgery or stent placement, the postoperative results should be monitored regularly. In patients with a pathological condition, regular follow-up may be necessary.

How should I prepare for testing?

Abdominal ultrasound produces more accurate results if the patient has fasted beforehand. This prevents gas from accumulating that can obscure the image. For this reason, appointments for an abdominal ultrasound should be made for the early morning.

Treating arteriosclerosis or aneurysms

The professional medical associations have drawn up guidelines for this treatment. Arteriosclerosis can be treated very successfully with catheterization. Treatment should be performed at a specialized center. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm is larger than 5 cm, a surgical repair or catheterization should be considered. Our practice will refer you to the appropriate treatment partner.