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Ultrasound examination of the abdominal portion of the aorta is useful for detecting abnormal enlargements of the aorta, called aneurysms. When aneurysms enlarge too much or too rapidly, they are in danger of rupturing. Fortunately, rupture is preventable through surgical repair, but only if the aneurysms are detected while they are still relatively small.

"Indications for ultrasound of the abdominal aorta include, but are not limited to:

A.  Diagnostic Evaluation for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

1.    Palpable pulsatile abdominal mass

2.    Unexplained lower back pain or abdominal pain

3.    Known extremity aneurysmal disease

4.    Follow-up of a previously demonstrated abdominal aortic aneurysm

5.    Follow-up of patients with history of placement of aortic or iliac endoluminal graft

B.   Screening Evaluation for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

1.    Men 65 or older

2.    Women 65 or older with cardiovascular risk factors

3.    Family history of aortic and peripheral vascular aneurysmal disease

Groups that should be seriously considered for screening include patients with a history of smoking, hypertension, and family history of aortic aneurysm in a first-degree relative."

(Excerpted from the soon-to-be-published American College of Radiology Practice Guideline for the Performance of Diagnostic and Screening Ultrasound of the Abdominal Aorta)

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