Can I palpate an Abdominal Aneurysm?

Patient

Q: Can you feel an abdominal aneurysm by pressing on the abdomen?

Doctor

A:   Abdominal aortic aneurysms can definitely palpated by an experienced clinician on physical examination. The most consistent physical finding is a pulsatile, expansile abdominal mass. Because most abdominal aneurysms cause no symptoms until they rupture, the prevalence of symptoms in patients with unruptured aneurysm is unknown. Patients may have symptoms, such as pain in the abdomen, back, or flank; an awareness of an abdominal mass or fullness; or a sensation of abdominal pulsations, that lead to the aneurysm's discovery. If your doctor sees signs of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, he or she may arrange for special tests to confirm the diagnosis. Usually, these will involve imaging of your abdomen using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), and ultrasound imaging.

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