The aorta is the main artery of the chest and abdomen that carries blood from the heart to all the body's vital organs and eventually to the legs and feet. An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a weakening in the wall of the aorta that causes a widening or “ballooning” of a portion of the artery itself, much like a weak area of an old-fashioned rubber inner tube. The aorta and iliac arteries can also be blocked by atherosclerosis.

An ultrasound can determine if there is an aneurysm and provide measurements to determine size and location of the aneurysm. Patients who have an AAA may have the scan many times to see if the aneurysm is growing over time and how fast it is growing. 


Nil by mouth for 4 hours prior to the examination to minimize bowel gas interference. Fluids may be taken as required.


The patient is recumbent. The study is non-invasive and painless and does not involve the injection of any dye. Gel is applied to the skin and the ultrasound probe is moved over the skin of the  abdomen. The study takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Arterial lower limb  studies are often performed at the same time.


B-mode imaging of the aorta and iliac arteries to assess for any dilatation, stenosis or flow disturbance.