Aortic Aneurysm - Exams and Tests
Aortic aneurysms are often discovered during an
echocardiogram done for other reasons. Sometimes an
abdominal aneurysm is felt during a routine physical exam. If this is
the case, your doctor will do a
medical history and physical exam.
When an aneurysm is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to:
- Pinpoint the location of the
- Estimate its size.
- Determine how fast it is
growing and whether surgical treatment is needed.
- Determine whether
other blood vessels are involved.
- Detect the presence of blood
clots or inflammation.
Tests to help find out the location, size, and rate of
growth of an aneurysm include:
- Abdominal ultrasound. Ultrasounds help
your doctor know if your aneurysm is growing. If your aneurysm is large, you
may need an ultrasound every 6 to 12 months. If your aneurysm is small, you may
need one every 2 to 3 years.
- Computed tomography (CT) and
magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), which are used if
a view more detailed than an ultrasound is needed. This is important when
information is needed about the aneurysm's relation to the blood vessels of the
kidney or other organs. Your doctor needs this information especially before
surgery. CT is used to watch the growth of a thoracic aortic
- Echocardiogram, an ultrasound exam used
to study the heart. A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) or a transesophageal
echocardiogram (TEE) may be done to diagnose thoracic aortic
- Angiogram. An angiogram can help
determine the size of the aneurysm and the presence of
aortic dissections, blood clots, or other blood vessel
One of the most important goals of testing is to estimate
the risk that an aneurysm may burst, or rupture, and to compare the risk of
rupture to the risks of surgery. If an aortic aneurysm is detected, tests such
as abdominal ultrasound can be used to closely follow any change in the size or
other aspect of the aneurysm and help measure the risk for
Your doctor may recommend an
abdominal ultrasound screening test if you are a man
- Age 65 to 75 and has ever smoked.1
- At least 60 years old and who has a first-degree relative (for
example, father or brother) who has had an aneurysm.2
The recommendation does not apply to women or nonsmoking
men, because they are less likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Screening is not thought to be beneficial for these groups.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or another condition that puts
them at risk may benefit from screening.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Should I Get a Screening Test?
Your doctor may recommend screening tests for a thoracic aortic aneurysm if you have a close relative (parent, brother, or sister) who has had a thoracic aortic aneurysm.