What Is an Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound?
An abdominal aorta ultrasound is a diagnostic imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the structure condition of your abdominal aorta. The abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in your abdomen. It starts at your diaphragm and follows the curvature of your lumbar spine, supplying oxygenated blood and nutrients to all your abdominal and pelvic organs.
Your doctor orders an abdominal aorta ultrasound to confirm suspicions of any problems with the main blood vessel branching away from your heart. At the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, New York, a diagnostics team uses the latest technology for imaging testing. Whether your primary care physician, an internist or a vein specialist orders the test, your doctor can detect any disorders of your abdominal aorta.
Why Is My Abdominal Aorta So Important?
Your abdominal aorta is the largest blood vessel in the abdominal cavity. It’s a continuation of the descending thoracic aorta that carries blood directly from your heart. This large blood vessel:
- Conducts blood to the vital organs in your abdominal cavity
- Supplies blood to your pelvic organs
- Directs blood to your legs and feet
- Controls your blood pressure through dilations and constrictions
If your doctor in Queens suspects any blockage or a disease that affects your abdominal aorta, you can undergo an abdominal aorta ultrasound to confirm or dismiss the diagnosis. If you complain of persistent abdominal pain, an abdominal ultrasound may become necessary.
When Do I Need an Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound?
Because of the critical nature of the abdominal aorta in your body, many doctors, including the specialists who practice in the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center, request an abdominal aorta ultrasound as part of preventive care. The non-invasive test reveals any abnormal conditions within this critical blood vessel. Abdominal aorta problems pose a risk to your life. An abdominal aorta ultrasound allows your doctor to:
- Find an enlargement of the artery, a condition known as abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Detect blockages or constrictions that arise due to plaque on the aorta walls
- Monitor existing aneurysms or any other known arterial conditions
- Review your condition as a follow-up to an abdominal aorta surgical procedure
Your doctor has the latest medical technology on hand to conduct diagnostic tests. The best way to treat medical issues is by catching them early, when treatment may not be so invasive. So the Medex team of doctors carry out diagnostic tests, including abdominal ultrasounds, CT scans, x-rays and MRIs to get the best picture of a suspected aneurysm or constriction. Early treatment also prevents damage to other parts of your body.
What Symptoms Signal a Need for an Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound?
During your initial consultation for an abdominal problem, your doctor reviews your symptoms and medical history before requesting an abdominal aorta ultrasound. Symptoms that may trigger the need for an abdominal aorta ultrasound include:
- General gut pain or discomfort that’s not from a gastrointestinal cause
- Pain spreading from your abdomen to your legs, pelvis or buttocks
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tenderness or pain in your chest
- An increased heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
- Sweaty skin
- A noticeable pulse near your bellybutton
- A black or blue toe, which may be a sign of diabetes
These symptoms may point to an abdominal aortic aneurysm, the most common problem associated with your abdominal aorta. This condition causes swelling and bulging of the weakened walls of your abdominal aorta. If not treated early, the aneurysm is in danger of rupturing, leading to internal bleeding. The ultrasound provides your doctor with the needed confirmation to start treatment.
What’s Involved with an Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound?
Unlike some other imaging tests, an abdominal aorta ultrasound doesn’t use ionizing radiation. Instead, the ultrasound machine sends waves into your abdomen to check the abdominal aorta. The quick and painless procedure follows a series of steps, including:
- You’re made comfortable on an exam table in your doctor’s office.
- A sonographer applies some gel onto your abdomen, which helps produce a sharper image.
- The sonographer then rubs a handheld device called a transducer onto your abdomen.
- High-frequency sound waves emit from the transducer. What bounces back are translated into live images through a computer.
Your doctor views the images, but they’re also recorded and sent to a radiologist for a precise interpretation. Your doctor later contacts you with the results and a follow-up treatment plan, if warranted.
How Can I Prevent Abdominal Aorta Conditions?
To prevent any damage to your abdominal aorta, doctors advise preventive measures that include:
- Stop smoking, as this increases the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Eat a healthy diet of whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, poultry and fish
- Take up exercise
- Control high blood pressure and cholesterol
Any abnormal condition of this blood vessel requires prompt attention. At the state-of-the-art Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center, your doctor can diagnose abdominal problems and a wide range of other conditions for the best preventive care. Contact the multi-specialty practice today.