Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

A AAA is an aneurysm (bulge) of the aorta in the belly. This is more common in people with high blood pressure and people who smoke.  If the bulge gets large enough it can rupture causing extreme pain and sometimes death.

How do we diagnose an AAA?

Ultrasound

Vascular ultrasound is a simple test used to detect AAA and detect changes over time.  Smokers who are starting medicare may be candidates for AAA screening.


Magnetic Resonance (MR)

MR and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) are more accurate tests to detect and measure AAA.  MRA is used less often because of cost but is more accurate and uses no radiation.  MRA may be the most accurate way to see if a AAA is at risk for rupture.


Computed Tomography (CT)

CT and computed tomography angiography (CTA) are the most accurate tests to detect and measure AAA.  A AAA can cause severe abdominal pain.  Once detected the best way to measure the AAA and look for changes is a CTA exam.

How do we treat an AAA?

AAA that have gotten large enough are treated with a stent graft which creates a path through the bulge in the aorta which seals off the bulge.  In rare cases surgery may be needed.