An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the aortic extension that goes down the abdomen.

If you’ve recently had a chest X-ray for an unrelated condition, and you’ve always been scared that you might have an abdominal aortic aneurysm – your chest X-ray results may have an answer for you.

“Yes, it is sometimes seen on an X-ray,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.

“Since an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakened section of the arterial wall, it often looks like a balloon or bulge within the abdomen,” says Dr. Anderson.

“If your doctor suspects you may have an abdominal aortic aneurysm, an ultrasound, CT of the abdomen and pelvis, or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis.”

Chest X-Ray and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

If a doctor spots the bulging portion on an X-ray image, chances are very high that the patient underwent the chest X-ray for an unrelated reason, such as:

• Suspicion of pneumonia

• Diagnosis of injuries sustained in a vehicular accident

• A check for cancer metastases

The AAA will have been discovered incidentally in this case.

Men over the age of 70, especially smokers or those with high blood pressure, should undergo a screening for an AAA. The screening is done with an ultrasound.

The disease is predominant in men to the extent that women over 70, even smokers with high blood pressure, are not recommended to have a screening.

“If the aneurysm is stable and there are no symptoms, your doctor may choose to just observe the condition,” says Dr. Anderson.

This would be done with annual imaging studies.

“If it is unstable or there are symptoms, a referral to a surgeon for surgical intervention may be necessary,” says Dr. Anderson.

In some patients, an abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause a notable pulsing sensation above the belly button.

Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.