An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a balloon-like bulge in the aorta, which is the large artery that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. An AAA occurs in the part of the aorta that is in the abdomen. AAA screening is a painless and non-invasive exam that uses ultrasound guidance to measure the abdominal aorta to look for any abnormalities that might require further examination. Approximately two-thirds of abdominal aortic aneurysms occur in men.
*According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there is not sufficient evidence to determine whether women ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked cigarettes or have a family history of AAA would benefit from AAA screening. If you think you would benefit from this exam, talk to your doctor.
- Genetic factors
- Gender (males at higher risk)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
No, you do not have to have symptoms to have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. Many do not have symptoms and don’t know they have an abdominal aortic aneurysm until it ruptures, which can be fatal. Some symptoms you may experience can include:
- Pain in the back, abdomen, or groin that may be prolonged and not relieved with position change or pain medication
- Pulsating enlargement or tender mass felt by a physician when performing a physical examination
Your doctor may find you eligible for AAA screening if you are a male between the ages of 65-75 years old and:
- Have ever smoked
- Have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there is currently not enough evidence to make a recommendation for or against AAA screening in women ages 65 to 75 who smoke or have ever smoked. Women with a family history should consult with their doctor.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends a one-time screening if you are a male ages 65-75 and have ever smoked or have a family history of AAA.
Yes, a prescription from your doctor is required.
Generally, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screenings do not have a copay, deductible or coinsurance so long as you meet the criteria for coverage. To find out your financial responsibility, contact your health insurance plan.
Treatment for an AAA depends on the size of the aneurysm. If it is small—less than 5.5 centimeters wide (about 2 inches)—the doctor may suggest repeat screenings every so often to monitor for any changes. Surgery is generally recommended only if the AAA is large—5.5 centimeters or more—or is growing very quickly.