How are abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) diagnosed?

Updated: Jan 08, 2019
  • Author: Saum A Rahimi, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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No specific laboratory studies can be used to diagnose AAA. The following imaging studies, however, can be employed diagnostically:

  • Ultrasonography - Standard imaging technique for AAA
  • Plain radiography - Using this method to evaluate patients with AAA is difficult because the only marginally specific finding, aortic wall calcification, is seen less than half of the time
  • Computed tomography (CT) and CT angiography (CTA) - This form of imaging is the main modality for defining and planning open or endovascular AAA repair; CT offers certain advantages over ultrasonography in defining aortic size, rostral-caudal extent, involvement of visceral arteries, and extension into the suprarenal aorta
  • Magnetic resonance imaging - This permits imaging of the aorta comparable to that obtained with CT and ultrasonography, without subjecting the patient to dye load or ionizing radiation
  • Angiography - With the fine resolution afforded by CTA, conventional angiography is rarely indicated to define the anatomy 

See Workup for more detail.

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