What is an abdominal ultrasound?

An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and a monitor to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs. For an abdominal ultrasound, physicians evaluate the blood flow through the abdominal aorta, as well as direct imaging of the blood vessel wall to determine if you have an aneurysm. 

A transducer (ultrasound probe) is placed on your abdomen and slowly moved from one area to another. The transducer receives sound waves bouncing back from the abdomen and projects the image onto the monitor. The technician is able to evaluate the blood flow in the abdominal aorta. In addition, the technician will give your doctors information regarding the size of an aortic aneurysm, if there is one, as well as information about the appearance of the blood vessel wall. This helps to determine treatment of the aneurysm. 

What to expect during an abdominal ultrasound

Preparing for your procedure 

Your physician will give you instructions to follow before your ultrasound procedure. Often, you will have to refrain from food or drink for up to 12 hours prior to the test. Always ask for instructions when scheduling your ultrasound. 

During your procedure 

Patients who undergo abdominal ultrasound tests may experience slight discomfort due to the position of the transducer, but should not feel any pain. The entire process will take about an hour. 

After your procedure 

You should feel no adverse effects after your abdominal ultrasound is complete. Your physician will receive a report of your test and contact you to follow up.

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