An AAA screening is a diagnostic ultrasound exam designed to identify an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the lower aorta becomes enlarged. The aorta is the largest blood vessel within the body. An aneurysm can lead to a life-threatening aortic rupture.
Unfortunately, abdominal aortic aneurysms can be difficult to detect due to their slow growth and lack of significant symptoms. A few symptoms include abdominal and back pain. It is important to know the risk factors for this condition and better determine your need for an AAA screening. Risk factors include:
- Being male
- Family history
- Older age
- Other aneurysms
- Tobacco use
If your doctor thinks you could be at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, they may request an AAA screening. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends AAA screenings for men ages 65-75, particularly those who have ever smoked.
Identifying AAA early on can be difficult when there are no symptoms, however, it can be crucial to preventing a life-threatening rupture. Therefore, your doctor may recommend a screening examination if you have one or more risk factors for AAA. A ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can be fatal, and aneurysms with a high risk for rupture may require surgery.
AAA screenings are painless and noninvasive. These diagnostic ultrasound exams are often performed by Registered Vascular Technologists who are trained to screen areas of the body for abnormalities. Ultrasound exams use harmless, high-frequency sound waves to create internal images of the body. It is a highly accurate and effective way of detecting a potential abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20350688
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. National Health Service. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-screening/
- Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2020/0515/od1.html