Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

What preparation is needed for a AAA (“triple A”) ultrasound?

You will need to fast – do not eat or drink for at least 6 hours and do not smoke or chew gum for at least 2 hours before your appointment.

Why can’t I eat, drink, smoke or chew gum before an abdominal ultrasound?

Sonographers need you fasted for a few reasons.

  1. Soundwaves don’t travel through air very well so ultrasound is unable to see in or behind areas that are filled with air (gas). When we eat, the food and gas in our stomach obscures the soundwaves from seeing the aorta clearly.
  2. If you smoke or chew gum you will naturally swallow air and this air will get in the way of the ultrasound.

What do you look at in a AAA ultrasound?

The sonographer will examine your aorta, the main vessel that takes blood from your heart down to your body and legs. Measurements will be taken to see if your aorta is dilated. The sonographer may extend the exam and look at other areas if clinically indicated.

What will happen during the exam?

You will need to lie on the ultrasound bed and expose your abdomen. The sonographer will put gel on your skin and slide an ultrasound transducer up-and-down your abdomen. You may need to breathe in and hold your breath or roll onto your side at some point during the exam.

What happens after the exam?

The sonographer will tell you any significant findings from the exam. She will write a report and that will be emailed to you and your referring doctor within 24 hours.

How long does a AAA ultrasound take?

The scan will take approximately 20 minutes.