The abdominal aorta is usually palpable left of the umbilicus. The normal diameter is 2 cm, and may increase in size and become at risk of rupture. If the abdominal aorta is less than 4 cm, a rupture is uncommon, but if it is greater than 5 cm, the individual is at a high risk of rupture.
Symptoms of an abdominal aortic aneurysm vary depending on the type and location of the aneurysm. Symptoms commonly include back pain, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and nausea. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm is suspected, an abdominal ultrasound is an easy and non-invasive technique in order to examine the region and determine the severity. It is important to consider an abdominal aortic aneurysm in an older adult with abdominal pain, back pain, and flank pain with diminished lower extremity pulses or lower extremity weakness. If the abdominal aortic aneurysm is less than 5 cm, a follow-up with ultrasound will be utilized every 3 months to monitor progression.
Some physicians recommend that an abdominal ultrasound be utilized as a screening procedure for an aneurysm in nonsmoking men older than 65 years, in male smokers older than 50 years, and in all persons older than 50 years who had a parent with an abdominal aneurysm. As future chiropractors, it is important to be aware of more ominous causes of low back pain, as back pain is one of the most common complaints in our office.
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