AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm)
An AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) scan will help you find out if you have any widening (aortic aneurysm) of your abdominal aorta.
If you do, we will advise you about your lifestyle, diet and any treatment that may be appropriate for you. You may feel nervous about your AAA scan so our friendly and experienced staff will be on hand to answer any questions that you may have.
Preparing for your AAA visit
You will require a referral from your GP before you are able to book an appointment. We want to make sure that you are fully informed regarding the scan. Please do call us if you have any questions before your appointment. If certain medical terms aren’t clear, we will happily explain them. If you’d like to bring a friend, no problem.
At your appointment, you will meet your healthcare professional who will perform your AAA scan. They will be with you throughout the whole process - from answering your questions beforehand, to performing the actual scan on the day.
Before you come to us, you can eat and drink as normal and take any prescribed medicine you’d normally take. We need to get as clear a scan image as possible. Please wear loose clothing that enables easy access to your abdomen.
If you have any disabilities or special needs, please inform us of these and we will make sure your needs are met.
Some couches or beds have a weight limit for safe use - usually between 110kg and 130kg (about 20 stone). If you feel this may be a problem, please contact us so we can make arrangements with your safety and peace of mind. If you think you might be pregnant, please contact us as we may not be able to perform the scan.
On the day
When you arrive for your appointment we’ll check your name, date of birth and address. Your healthcare professional will explain what will happen in the scan and go through any questions you may have. If necessary, your healthcare professional may ask you to change into a gown for the scan. This will only be if an item of clothing could interfere with the scan.
Can we have your permission?
At your appointment we will ask you to sign a consent form to show that you agree to the procedure and that you fully understand what will happen. We also need your permission to send your results to your GP. You are free to ask any questions you want to ensure that you are comfortable with everything before you sign.
What happens during your AAA scan?
Your appointment will take about 15 minutes but the actual scan takes only two minutes. You will lie on a couch or bed and your consultant will help you get into the right position for your scan. Your consultant will then apply a clear gel to your stomach, below your ribs. This will help the ultrasound probe (transducer) make contact with your skin. The probe will be pressed firmly against your skin and moved back and forth. This procedure is painless. Unless you are advised otherwise you will be able to get back to your normal activities immediately.
After the procedure
After your scan your healthcare professional will talk you through your results. They will inform you if you have an aortic aneurysm. If you do have an aneurysm they will tell you the size of it.
If necessary, we will discuss treatment options with you and any guidance we give you will be based on the UK National Screening Committee 2007. As a guide, depending on the size of your aorta, we would recommend the following:
- If your aorta is less than 3cm - this is normal and no further treatment is required.
- If your AAA measures between 3cm and 4.4cm - you will be advised to have repeat scans annually.
- If your AAA measures between 4.5cm and 5.4cm - you will be advised that a repeat scan will be required within 3 months to monitor the aneurysm.
- If your AAA is more than 5.5cm - you will be referred to your GP at your appointment.
- If your AAA is more than 7cm - an urgent referral to a vascular surgeon will be made at your appointment.
If at any time you’re unsure of any of the information we give you, don’t hesitate to ask for a clearer explanation. We want you to feel reassured and to understand what’s involved.
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