How is an abdominal aneurysm detected?

Most abdominal aneurysms are diagnosed during a routine physical examination or on X-ray when being tested for other health concerns.

Once an aneurysm is suspected, the following imaging tests may be used to determine size, location of the aneurysm, and treatment options:

  • Ultrasound: high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, are transmitted through body tissues. The echoes from the sound waves are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images.
  • CT scans: computed tomography, commonly known as a CT scan, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of a cross-section of the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer are used to produce clear pictures of the body. This procedure does not involve the use of X-rays.
  • Angiogram: test in which a thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel and a contrast dye is injected to make the blood vessels visible on the X-ray. This is rarely used to diagnose an abdominal aortic aneurysm but may be used to aid in the treatment of an aneurysm.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/10/2019.

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