An abdominal ultrasound is performed to evaluate abdominal structures, including the abdominal aorta. It may be used to check for a number of conditions. It's often the screening method of choice for detecting an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakened, bulging spot in your abdominal aorta, the artery that runs through the middle of your abdomen and supplies blood to the lower half of your body.
An abdominal ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm is recommended for men ages 65 to 75 who are current or former cigarette smokers. Having an abdominal ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm isn't specifically recommended for men who have never smoked, nor women, unless your doctor suspects you may have an aneurysm.
Why it's done
Your doctor may recommend that you have an abdominal ultrasound if you're at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A one-time abdominal aortic ultrasound screening is recommended for men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetimes.
Routine screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm isn't recommended for women, and it's unclear if men who have never smoked may benefit from an abdominal ultrasound to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm include:
Being age 65 or older
A history of atherosclerosis — a thickening of the walls of your arteries
A family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm
High blood pressure (a systolic pressure of 140 to 159 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg, or a diastolic pressure of 90 to 99 mm Hg)