An aneurysm is a localized, balloon-like expansion in a blood vessel, caused by weak vessel walls. The abdominal aorta refers to the part of the aorta, the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the legs, between the diaphragm and the legs. That is why the bulge that occurs in the abdominal aorta is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.The weakened, bulging vessel walls are susceptible to rupture, a catastrophic event which causes severe bleeding and pain and is often fatal. Half of all untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms end in rupture and death within five years, making them the 13th leading cause of death in the United States. Leakage, rather than rupture, may occur causing blood to flow through the inner lining into the vessel wall, known as aortic dissection. In addition, blood clots may form in the aneurysm and travel to other arteries, where they may block blood flow. Other complications are an infection and blockage of the aorta.
There are many factors that can cause an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm including genetics, hypertension, congenital deformity and vessel injury to name a few. An abdominal aortic ultrasound is used to screen patient risk for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, also known as AAA screening. It assesses plaque formation in the aorta and measures the size of the aorta.