Abdominal aortic dopplers are tests that allow a doctor to view the abdominal aorta in order to determine if it is enlarged. While the test itself may be necessary in both minor and dire circumstances, it is not invasive and is a very simple test that requires no risk to the patient.
What Is an Abdominal Aortic Doppler?
The abdominal aortic doppler is also known as an abdominal aortic ultrasound. This is because an ultrasound is used for the procedure. The abdominal aorta is situated within the abdomen, which means that a CT scan or MRI is not necessary to view it. The ultrasound itself is extremely mild and non-invasive. It isn’t even painful. A specific ultrasound technique, known as the Doppler ultrasound, allows technicians to see the blood flowing through the aorta itself, which helps them determine if it is flowing normally or if there is a problem (often due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm).
Who Needs an Abdominal Aortic Doppler, When Do They Need It, and Why?
Usually, patients who receive this test are those whom doctors are concerned may have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta becomes weakened over many years of pumping oxygenated blood away from the heart. The weak part of the aorta will bulge and swell out, which is the definition of an aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when this happens to the aorta that runs through the abdomen, directly opposite the spine.
This often occurs because fatty substances, cholesterol, etc. have built up along the artery walls, eventually weakening the aorta. Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Pulsing inside the abdomen
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Bleeding of the rectum
When patients come to the doctor with these symptoms, the doctor will often examine them using a stethoscope to try to hear a bruit in the abdominal aorta, or by feeling their abdomen for a pulsing mass. The doctor will need to confirm the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is where the doppler ultrasound comes in. The test itself should be done as soon as possible after the condition is suspected.
Which Tests Do You Need to Do Before Getting an Abdominal Aortic Doppler?
Patients are sometimes examined for completely different reasons when doctors notice the signs of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. If this is the case, the patient will often be referred to an ultrasound technician for an abdominal aortic doppler test. This test is usually the first line of defense in searching for an abdominal aortic doppler.
Which Test Will You Need After an Abdominal Aortic Doppler?
If more information is required or if a clearer image is necessary after the doppler, the patient may be referred to an abdominal and pelvic computed tomography, or CT scan, or an angiography.
How to Prepare for an Abdominal Aortic Doppler
The procedure itself is minimally invasive and doesn’t require much preparation. However, it is necessary that patients do not eat for five hours prior to the exam so that they will not be gassy during the doppler. This will allow the ultrasound to get a better read, uninterrupted by bowel sounds.
Before, During, and After an Abdominal Aortic Doppler
Patients should make sure to eat a filling meal before they go to sleep the night before the exam. Sleeping well is always good preparation for any exam.
During the procedure, patients should expect to be asked to lie down on an exam table, to pull up their shirts to expose their stomachs, and to have gel placed on their stomachs to aid in the ultrasound’s ability to see what’s inside. The technician will move the transducer over the patient’s stomach and take pictures so that the doctor will be able to confirm or not confirm the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Patients shouldn’t expect to wait too long after the procedure to learn about its results. Unless they are specifically told otherwise, they are usually cleared to return to their normal lifestyle, including their regular diet.
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