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Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs), a localized dilation of the abdominal aorta that exceeds normal diameter by more than 50%, occur most frequently in men over the age of 60. In the US, AAA occurs in 2-4 % of the adult population, with men 5-7 times more likely than women to develop AAA. Ruptured AAA is the 13th leading cause of death in the US: approximately 15,000 American die annually from it.
In addition to age and gender, other patient risk factors include atherosclerosis, a family history of AAA, a history of smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. An estimated 40,000 surgical procedures are performed every year in the U.S. to repair AAAs. The US Preventative Services Task Force recommends screening patients who have a relatively high risk of dying from AAA: major risk factors include age 65 years or older, male sex, and smoking at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime.
A small amount of gel is applied to your chest over the area to be studied. A hand held transducer uses sound waves to produce a picture of your heart. When the scan button is pressed on the AortaScan, the instrument measures ultrasonic reflections on multiple planes inside the body and produces a three dimensional image. Based on this image, the scanner calculates and displays the diameter of the abdominal aorta on the color console. Your physician will review the image and calculation.