Vascular Specialists Tyler Texas
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Non-Invasive Abdominal Vascular Evaluation:
Renal Artery Duplex

What is an abdominal vascular examination?

Vascular studies are noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) procedures used to evaluate the blood flow in arteries and veins and to assess for blockage or stenosis. Plaque (a build up of fatty materials), a thrombus (blood clot), and other substances in the blood stream may cause a disturbance in the blood flow through the arteries. This procedure combines high resolution B-mode real-time imaging with Doppler ultrasound, color flow Doppler and spectral analysis. Ultrasound creates an image of the structure of the tissues and arteries and Doppler demonstrates the characteristics of the blood flow through the arteries. You will be able to hear the Doppler portion of the study. Gel will be placed on your skin to conduct the sound waves from the transducer.

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and it carries oxygen-rich blood pumped out of, or away from, your heart. Your aorta runs through your chest, where it is called the thoracic aorta. When it reaches your abdomen, it is called the abdominal aorta. The abdominal aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body. In the abdomen, just below the navel, the aorta splits into two branches, called the iliac arteries, which carry blood into each leg.

When a weak area of the abdominal aorta expands or bulges, it is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The pressure from blood flowing through your abdominal aorta can cause a weakened part of the aorta to bulge, much like a balloon. A normal aorta is about 1 inch (or about 2 centimeters) in diameter. However, an AAA can stretch the aorta beyond its safety margin as it expands. Aneurysms are a health risk because they can burst or rupture. A ruptured aneurysm can cause severe internal bleeding, which can lead to shock or even death.

Each year, physicians diagnose approximately 200,000 people in the United States with AAA. Of those 200,000, nearly 15,000 may have AAA threatening enough to cause death from its rupture if not treated.

Fortunately, especially when diagnosed early before it causes symptoms, an AAA can be treated, or even cured, with highly effective and safe treatments.

What are the indications or symptoms for an abdominal vascular evaluation for AAA?

Physicians and researchers are not quite sure what actually causes an AAA to form in some people. The leading thought is that the aneurysm may be caused by inflammation in the aorta, which may cause its wall to weaken or break down. Some researchers believe that this inflammation can be associated with atherosclerosis (also called hardening of the arteries) or risk factors that contribute to atherosclerosis, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and smoking. In atherosclerosis fatty deposits, called plaque, build up in an artery. Over time, this buildup causes the artery to narrow, stiffen and possibly weaken. Besides atherosclerosis, other factors that can increase your risk of AAA include:

  • Being a man older than 60 years
  • Having an immediate relative, such as a mother or brother, who has had AAA
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Your risk of developing AAA increases as you age. AAA is more common in men than in women.

Although you may initially not feel any symptoms with AAA, if you develop symptoms, you may experience one or more of the following:

  • A pulsing feeling in your abdomen, similar to a heartbeat
  • Severe, sudden pain in your abdomen or lower back. If this is the case, your aneurysm may be about to burst
  • On rare occasions, your feet may develop pain, discoloration, or sores on the toes or feet because of material shed from the aneurysm

If your aneurysm bursts, you may suddenly feel intense weakness, dizziness, or pain, and you may eventually lose consciousness. This is a life-threatening situation and you should seek medical attention immediately.

What can I expect during the exam?

A complete examination of the aorta and iliac arteries is approximately 30 to 45 minutes.  It is performed in a darkened room lying on an exam table. Images of the arteries will be taken using the ultrasound equipment.  A transducer is placed on the skin with a small amount of water soluble ultrasound gel.

Patient Instructions

  • Allow 30 to 45 minutes for your abdominal vascular examination.
  • No smoking for one hour prior to study - it can create a constriction of your arteries and increase abdominal gas.
  • Fast for at least 8 hours before the scan -to limit any excess bowel gas which may otherwise restrict the view.
  • Please notify us if you suffer from diabetes and we will try and accommodate you with an early morning appointment.
  • Unless specified, you should take your usual medications with a small amount of water.  


If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (903) 533-8702.

Vascular Specialists of East Texas