Diagnosis of Abdominal Aortic Aneurism


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Diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism can only be done by a competent certified medical doctor. The recognition of the presence of abdominal aortic aneurism is not usually an easy one to make. If it is suspected, the following steps are taken to work up to the diagnosis:


A good history from the sufferer of close family member is very vital to making a diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism.

The first time a patient with abdominal aneurysm presents to the doctor may be in the emergency department.

Sometimes, it may be possible from the history of a patient who goes to his family doctor or G.P with a characteristic pain to be suspected with this problem and investigated further.

Usually the sufferer is above 50 years of age, complains of abdominal pain radiating to the back, continuous, not relieved or aggravated by any known factor. There may be associated abdominal distension and or swelling. The patient may even have noticed a swollen pulsatile mass in the abdomen above the belly button or umbilicus. If the aneurysm is ruptured, there may be associated dizziness, vomiting and collapse.

There may be history of angina, hypertension or diabetes. Past heart attacks, or strokes are not uncommon.

There may be family history of heart diseases and the patient may be a smoker.


A thorough examination will help in making a diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism.

Sometimes, nothing really could be found especially if the aneurysm is still about 3.5 to 4 cm. Large saccular aneurysm may be easily palpable.

The patient may be pale and clammy, with very fast pulse and low or difficult to read blood pressure.

On palpating the abdomen, a mass may be palpable.

Auscultation of the mass may reveal bruits.

Rectal examinations may suggest involvement of the iliac vessels by the feeling of pulsatile vessels from the rectum.

Test To Help In The Diagnosis of Abdominal Aortic Aneurism

The following tests are available to help in the diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism:


This is usually the first test done in non-emergency setting to reveal the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is seen as a dilated hollow object in the centre of the abdomen with calcified margins.


In both non-emergency and emergency situations, the use of abdominal ultrasound scan in diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism is very helpful. The ballooning can be demonstrated, and more importantly, the size of the aneurysm which is very important in predicting the risk of rupture and plan when surgery should be undertaken. Abdominal ultrasound scan is said to be effective in demonstrating this in up to 97% of cases. An advantage of using ultrasound over most other forms of imaging test is that, one, it is a non invasive test, meaning that you do not need to be cut, or something pushed into the interiors of your body, and, two, it does not involve x-ray radiations. It is however limited in showing detailed architecture of the vessels involved. The use of CT scan and MRI help in this regard.


Computed tomography scan, popularly known as CT-Scan is very useful in outline in great details the architecture of the Vessels involved and planning the extent of operation or use of endovascular graft. The down side to CT san is that it involves the use of very very large dose of x-ray radiations 400 times that used for a single chest x-ray. Another potential set back for the use of CT scan is the use of a contrast dye. In most people, this is okay. How ever, some are allergic to the contrast. If you are allergic to shell fish, then it is most likely you would be allergic to the contrast dye and iodine. You should let your doctor know. The contrast dye is also risky for use in those with kidney problem. The kidneys may not be able to excrete the dye out. Some doctors get around this by using a medication called N-acetyl cysteine or NAC.

Other test options used in the diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurism include MRI, and aortic angiography.

More Topics on this Subject:

What is Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

Symptoms of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Complications of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

Complications of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

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