About Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a life-threatening vascular disease.
If you have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm or have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your lifetime, you are considered at risk. Ultrasound is an accurate screening tool for abdominal aortic aneurysms. It is painless, safe, and quick.
The aorta is the main blood vessel leading from the heart through the body. AAAs occur when the aorta expands, most often because of atherosclerotic disease. When the aorta expands, the wall weakens and may rupture. AAAs usually cause no symptoms until they rupture, at which point life-threatening bleeding may occur. Family history and smoking are considered risk factors for developing an AAA.
A screening exam will determine if an AAA has already developed. If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, you and your doctor can determine a course of action to treat the AAA or reduce the likelihood of it growing and rupturing.
Risks Involved in This Exam
No radiation is used in this examination and there are no known health risks. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves (far above the range of human hearing) to obtain images of the inside of the body.
Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation
Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.
Medicare covers a once-in-a-lifetime ultrasound screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA).
Patients with Medicare who meet the following criteria are eligible:
- Patient must obtain a referral for the AAA ultrasound screening from a physician, PA or NP.
- Patient must has never had an AAA ultrasound screening covered by Medicare.
- The patient with Medicare coverage has at least one of the following risk factors:
- A family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Is a man aged 65 to 75, who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in his lifetime
- Certain other risk factors may apply. Talk to your doctor to find out more.
For non-Medicare patients, please check with your insurance company regarding your coverage for this exam. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.
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Conditions to Let Us Know About
There are no conditions that you need to report prior to this exam.
Following are the general preparation guidelines for an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening exam. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.
- For morning appointments, no food or drink after midnight the day of the exam (except a small amount of water for medications).
- For afternoon appointments, no food or liquid after 7am (except a small amount of water for medications).
- Arrive 20 minutes prior to your appointment time.
What to Expect
During the Exam
Here is generally what will happen during an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening:
- A sonographer will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have.
- The sonographer will position you on a padded table. You will need to pull up your shirt to expose your abdomen for the exam.
- A warm gel will be applied to your skin to help transmit the sound waves.
- The sonographer will move a transducer across your abdomen while watching a continuous image on a computer screen. The transducer is a handheld device that produces and records sound waves. You won’t feel any pain during the procedure, but you may feel some pressure from the transducer.
- After obtaining all the needed images, the sonographer will help you remove any remaining gel.
The sonographer may leave the room to show images to a radiologist. The radiologist may come in during the exam to watch the ultrasound or perform part of the exam personally.
The exam will take approximately 30 minutes.
After the Exam
There is no recovery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening exam. You can return to your normal activities immediately after the exam.
A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of abdominal aortic aneurysm screening exams will analyze the data and results from your exam. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.
During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.