Suspected leaking abdominal aortic aneurysm: use of sonography in the emergency room

Radiology. 1988 Jul;168(1):117-9. doi: 10.1148/radiology.168.1.3289085.


To determine the value of sonography in the emergent evaluation of suspected leaking abdominal aortic aneurysms, the authors examined 60 patients in the emergency department using sonography and a protocol involving advance radio notification from the ambulance; arrival of sonographic personnel and equipment in the triage room before patient arrival; and, during other triage activities, rapid sonographic evaluation of the aorta for aneurysm and of the paraaortic region for extraluminal blood. Sonographic findings were correlated with surgical results and clinical outcome. When performed under these circumstances, sonography was accurate in demonstrating presence or absence of aneurysm (98%), but its sensitivity for extraluminal blood was poor (4%). A combination of sonographic confirmation of aneurysm, abdominal pain, and unstable hemodynamic condition resulted in the correct decision to perform emergent surgery in 21 of 22 patients (95%). An abbreviated sonographic examination done in the emergency room can provide accurate, useful information about the presence of aneurysm; this procedure does not significantly delay triage of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Abdominal
  • Aortic Rupture / diagnosis*
  • Aortic Rupture / surgery
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonography*