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Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound

An abdominal aortic ultrasound is a noninvasive exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to visually evaluate the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body that carries blood away from the heart.  This test determines if there are blockages, narrowing or aneurysm (an enlargement or a "bulge") in the aorta. Ultrasound is used to obtain images of the aorta and the blood flow within.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), which involves a weakened, bulging area in the aorta that develops from high blood pressure or infection, can be effectively screened using ultrasound technology.  AAA is diagnosed when the aorta expands to over three centimeters in diameter. As the size of the aneurysm increases, so does the risk of rupture. For patients enrolled in Medicare, an AAA screening must be performed within the first 12 months of enrollment.

The Society for Vascular Surgery and the Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology recommends the following courses of action after screening:

Ultrasound imaging of the aorta is useful for measuring its size to screen for AAA. This test is recommended for men over the age of 60, as well as smokers and patietns with a family history of AAA.  If a diagnosis of AAA is confirmed, ultrasound can be used to monitor the condition on a regular basis and determine appropriate treatment methods.


Abdominal Ultrasound

An Abdominal Ultrasound is performed to visually evaluate abdominal organs, including the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, bile ducts, abdominal aorta and spleen, to help detect a wide range of conditions and also assess blood flow to these organs.

Ultrasound can detect cysts, abscesses, obstructions, fluid collection, clots and infection in the abdomen. In a recent study, the General Practitioner's anticipated patient management strategy was changed for 64% of patients following upper Abdominal Ultrasound. Negative findings are important for exclusion of diseases and, therefore, for reassurance of the patient. Abdominal Ultrasound substantially reduced the number of intended referrals to a medical specialist, and more patients could be reassured by their General Practioner. (Oxford University Journal 6/2007) This study confirms the essential value of abdominal ultrasound in clinical evaluations.

There is no discomfort, risk or radiation exposure with ultrasound. There are some conditions that may interfere with the results of the abdominal ultrasound exam. The most common are severe obesity, intestinal gas and barium in the intestines from a GI series that was performed prior to the ultrasound exam.

Indications for use:

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

The ankle brachial index (ABI) is a noninvasive test used to determine a patient's risk for peripheral artery disease, a condition that involves a narrowing of the arteries in the leg and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) uses a Doppler device to detect blood flow within the ankle and arm, and then compares these two results to properly assess a patient’s risk.  Blood pressure that is lower in the leg than in the arm may be a sign of a blocked artery.

Recent studies in the AMA Journal recognize the usefulness and value of ABI testing for the evaluation of cardiovascular risk. The study states these tests are under-utilized in routine clinical practice because:

Our service will accurately perform this test and enable your practice to treat the patient in the most efficacious manner.


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