Date issued: July 2019
For review: July 2021
Ref: B-428/AE/Vascular/Ultrasound scan of the aorta
Why scan the aorta?
The aorta is the main blood vessel that goes from the heart to the level of the belly button. The wall of the aorta can become weakened and it can balloon up and become too large. This is known as an aneurysm. An ultrasound scan is an easy way to measure the size of the aorta and see if an aneurysm is developing. It is also used to monitor the size of an aneurysm and also sometimes to check that there are no problems after an aneurysm has been repaired.
What is an Ultrasound scan or Doppler Scan?
Ultrasound scans use very high frequency sound waves to build up pictures of inside the body. It is most commonly known as the type of scan used to look at unborn babies. It does not use any form of radiation and is considered completely safe. Doppler is a form of ultrasound scan in which blood flow is detected; during a Doppler ultrasound scan you will frequently hear your pulse.
How do I prepare for the test?
There is no specific preparation for this test. You may however wish to consider the clothes that you will be comfortable in when having the scan done. It is not usually necessary to undress, but the person doing the scan will need to be able to put ultrasound gel on to your tummy, usually from the level of the ribs to just below the belly button level.
What does the test involve?
A Vascular Scientist will perform and report the scan. You will be asked to lie down on a couch. Some ultrasound gel will be placed on your tummy and the area to be examined will be scanned. Occasionally we will need to press quite hard to get a good picture and this may be mildly uncomfortable. The scan usually takes about 10 minutes to complete. There are no side effects and you can leave the department as soon as the scan is complete. There is no need to be accompanied to this scan but someone can come with you if you wish.
What happens next?
The Vascular Scientist will write a report on the scan results and send it to the doctor who requested the scan. If necessary, the Vascular Scientist will arrange an appointment for you to see a Vascular Consultant if you haven’t seen one already. The Vascular Scientist can comment on the scan findings with you but you will be able to discuss the results more fully with your Doctor at your next outpatient appointment.
Any further questions?
Please phone the Vascular Assessment Unit on 01752 439228 if you have any questions that you want answered before attending for the scan or if there is anything that you think we should know about before your scan. The Vascular Scientist who does your scan will also be happy to answer any further questions that you have.