Cardiac Diagnostic Testing
Why is it important to scan the aorta?
The aorta comes directly from the heart and is the largest artery in the body. It has many branches and is important for supplying blood to the legs and organs in the abdomen. The most common disease of the aorta is its enlargement (aneurysmal disease). An aneurysm occurs when the wall of the artery becomes weak and swells like a balloon. Aneurysms often do not cause any symptoms, so it is important to scan them to detect problems early.
What is an aneurysm and an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
An aneurysm is where a section of an artery widens (balloons out). The wall of an aneurysm is weaker than a normal artery wall. The pressure of the blood inside the artery causes the weaker section of wall to balloon.
Aneurysms can occur in any artery, but they most commonly occur in the aorta. Most aortic aneurysms occur in the section of the aorta that passes through the abdomen. These are known as abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). Sometimes they occur in the section going through the chest. These are known as thoracic aortic aneurysms.
How do I prepare for the test?
You may have to remove some of your clothing in order to expose your abdomen (stomach) for the test to be performed. You should not eat for 4 hours before the scan. This will help to remove any excess bowel gas that may otherwise restrict the views. Please take any medication as normal. People with diabetes should eat normally.
What does the test involve?
You lie on the table; some cold gel is applied to your abdomen and the area of Interest is scanned. The test takes around 20 minutes and is a safe, non-invasive and painless way of assessing the aorta’s size and blood flow.