Aorta

Introduction:

Many studies have demonstrated the accuracy of bedside ultrasound in detecting abdominal aortic aneurysm. Since the majority of these aneurysms occur distal to the renal arteries, it is imperative that the entire abdominal aorta (down to the aortic bifurcation) is visualized. Measurements should be taken across the widest diameter of aorta, from outer wall to outer wall.

Focused Questions:

  1. Is the aorta less than 3cm?
  2. Are the iliac arteries less than 1.5cm?

Video Overview:

Required Views:

1. Proximal aorta (transverse)

Probe position Image
aorta prox Aorta usaortaprox Aorta
Notes
  • Visualize the aorta, inferior vena cava, lumbar shadow
  • The superior mesenteric artery and splenic vein are often seen at this level as well
Abnormal Studies (click to enlarge)
usao1.thumbnail Aorta

2. Mid aorta (transverse)

Probe position Image
aorta mid Aorta usaortamid Aorta
Notes
  • Visualize the aorta, inferior vena cava, lumbar shadow
  • The renal arteries may sometimes be seen branching from the aorta at this level
Abnormal Studies (click to enlarge)
usao2.thumbnail Aorta

3. Aortic bifurcation/iliac arteries (transverse)

Probe position Image
aorta distal Aorta usaortabifurc Aorta
Notes
  • Near the level of the umbilicus (L4-5) the aorta bifurcates into the iliac arteries
  • This is best seen using very small fanning motions of the transducer proximal and distal
  • The single circle of the aorta will be seen to divide with very small transducer movements
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4. Mid aorta (longitudinal)

Probe position Image
aorta long Aorta usaortalong Aorta
Notes
  • Be sure the aorta, and not the inferior vena cava, is centered on the screen
Abnormal Studies (click to enlarge)
usao3.thumbnail Aorta

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