What is a Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when atherosclerosis or plaque buildup causes the walls of the abdominal aorta to become weak and bulge outward like a balloon. An AAA develops slowly over time and has few noticeable symptoms. The larger an aneurysm grows, the more likely it will burst or rupture, causing intense abdominal or back pain, dizziness, nausea or shortness of breath.

Your doctor can confirm the presence of an AAA with an abdominal ultrasound, abdominal and pelvic CT or angiography. Treatment depends on the aneurysm’s location and size as well as your age, kidney function and other conditions. Aneurysms smaller than five centimeters in diameter are typically monitored with ultrasound or CT scans every six to 12 months. Larger aneurysms or those that are quickly growing or leaking may require open or endovascular surgery.


What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

The aorta, the largest artery in the body, is a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart. It originates just after the aortic valve connected to the left side of the heart and extends through the entire chest and abdomen. The portion of the aorta that lies deep inside the abdomen, right in front of the spine is called the abdominal aorta.

Over time, artery walls may become weak and widen, an analogy would be what can happen to an aging garden hose. The pressure of blood pumping through the aorta may then cause this weak area to bulge outward, like a balloon (called an aneurysm). An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA, or “triple A”) occurs when this type of vessel weakening happens in the portion of the aorta that runs through the abdomen.

The majority of AAAs are the result of atherosclerosis, a chronic degenerative disease of the artery wall, in which fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form soft or hard deposits called plaques.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms typically develop slowly over a period of many years and hardly ever cause any noticeable symptoms. Occasionally, especially in thin patients, a pulsating sensation in the abdomen may be felt. The larger an aneurysm grows, the greater the chance it will burst, or rupture.

If an aneurysm expands rapidly, tears, or leaks, the following symptoms may develop suddenly:

  • intense and persistent abdominal or back pain that may radiate to the buttocks and legs
  • sweating and clamminess
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rapid heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • low blood pressure.

Major risk factors for a AAA include family history, smoking and longstanding high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men who have a history of smoking should receive a one-time screening for triple A between the ages of 65 and 75. Men with a family history of AAA should be screened at age 60.

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm evaluated?

Many abdominal aortic aneurysms are incidentally found on ultrasound examinations, x-rays or CT scans. The patient is often being examined for an unrelated reason. In other patients who experience symptoms and seek medical attention, a physician may be able to feel a pulsating aorta or hear abnormal sounds in the abdomen with the stethoscope.

To confirm the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a physician may order imaging tests including:

  • Abdominal Ultrasound (US): Ultrasound is a highly accurate way to measure the size of an aneurysm. A physician may also use a special technique called Doppler ultrasound to examine blood flow through the aorta. Occasionally the aorta may not be completely seen due to overlying bowel which blocks the view of ultrasound or in very large patients.
  • Abdominal and pelvic computed tomography (CT): This exam is highly accurate in determining the size and extent of an aneurysm.
  • Angiography: This exam, which uses x-rays, CT or MRI and a contrast material to produce pictures of major blood vessels throughout the body, is used to help identify abnormalities such as abdominal aortic aneurysms.

How is an abdominal aortic aneurysm treated?

Treatment depends on a variety of factors, including size and location of the aneurysm within the abdominal aorta and the patient’s age, kidney function and other conditions.

Patients with aneurysms that are smaller than five centimeters in diameter are typically monitored with ultrasound or CT scans every six to 12 months and may be advised to:

  • quit smoking
  • control high blood pressure
  • lower cholesterol.

Surgical treatment may be recommended for patients who have aneurysms that are:

  • larger than 5 centimeters (two inches) in diameter
  • quickly growing
  • leaking.

There are two treatment options:

  • Traditional (open) surgical repair: In this type of surgery, an incision is made in the abdomen and the damaged part of the aorta is removed and replaced with a synthetic tube called a stent graft, which is sewn into place.
  • Endovascular surgery: In this procedure, which is less invasive than an open repair, the stent graft is attached to the end of a thin plastic tube called a catheter, inserted through an artery in the leg and maneuvered up into the abdomen, where it is positioned inside the aneurysm and fastened in place with small hooks.

The Importance of Peripheral Artery Disease — How to Detect it and Treat it

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) refers to arterial disease that occurs outside of the heart or brain. In PAD, arteries become narrowed or blocked, usually as a result of atherosclerosis or plaque. It most commonly affects the arteries in the legs.

Vascular ultrasound, Doppler ultrasound, catheter angiography, CT angiography (CTA), or MR angiography (MRA) may be used to help evaluate your condition. Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes to treat your condition. Bypass surgery or interventional procedures such as angioplasty, catheter-directed thrombolysis or atherectomy may be used to help improve blood flow.

What is peripheral artery disease (PAD)?

In Peripheral artery disease, the arteries that carry oxygenated blood throughout the body become narrowed or even blocked, usually as a result of atherosclerosis, or plaque. PAD most commonly affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can involve arteries that carry blood to the head, arms, kidneys and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Many people with PAD have mild or no symptoms; others experience occasional claudication, or leg pain when walking. The severity of intermittent claudication varies from mild to debilitating. Other PAD symptoms include sores or ulcers that don’t heal and persistent coldness in the feet and lower legs.

Among the risk factors for PAD are diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Most cases occur in people older than 50

How is peripheral artery disease evaluated?

Several imaging tests can be used to diagnose PAD:

  • Vascular Ultrasound. This exam uses sound waves to create pictures of the arteries and locate blockages.
  • Doppler Ultrasound: Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that can help detect areas of restricted blood flow through an artery.
  • Catheter angiography: This minimally invasive imaging exam relies on a contrast agent and x-rays to show blood flow in the arteries in the legs and to pinpoint any blockages that may be present. The contrast agent is injected through a tube or catheter that is usually placed through a blood vessel in the groin.
  • CT angiography (CTA): CT angiography uses a CT scanner to produce detailed views of the arteries in your abdomen, pelvis and legs. This test is particularly useful in patients with pacemakers or stents.
  • MR angiography (MRA): MR angiography is a noninvasive test that gives information similar to that of a CT without the ionizing radiation.


How is peripheral artery disease treated?

Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications, exercise and smoking cessation often are the first choices for patients with early-stage PAD Other interventions may be needed to restore blood flow:

  • Angioplasty: In an angioplasty procedure, an interventional radiologist threads a catheter through a blood vessel to the affected artery and inflates a small balloon to reopen it. In some cases, the insertion of a stent is required to help keep the artery open. Stents are either balloon-expandable or self-expanding metallic scaffolds that remain permanently in the blood vessel after implantation.
  • Bypass surgery: Surgeons perform bypass surgery by grafting a vessel from another part of your body or using a synthetic graft made of fabric, allowing blood to flow around, or bypass, the blocked or narrowed artery.
  • Catheter-directed Thrombolysis: In this minimally invasive treatment, an interventional radiologist uses a catheter to reach the site of the blockage and injects a drug to dissolve the blood clot. This typically requires an overnight infusion.
  • Atherectomy: This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter to reach the site of the blockage. There, a small blade or laser is deployed to remove the arterial plaque. The catheter captures the collected plaque in a chamber in the tip. The process can be repeated to treat additional plaque.

Happy 4th of July!

From our family to yours……….

The Living Well Foundation would like to wish everyone a safe & fun 4th of July!


FREE Vascular Disease Screening Fair


Vascular disease: Why you should care?

  • Vascular disease is a serious problem.
  • If undetected, it can lead to significant medical problems such as leg ulcers, stroke and even death.


The Living Well vascular screening program is staffed with practicing professional volunteers.

FREE upcoming vascular screening event in our community.

Check back for more details regarding the next upcoming event…coming soon!


Meet Our Team Driven to Improve the Health of Our Community

About the Living Well Foundation

Physician led 501 (c)(3) federal income tax exempt public charitable organization with a mission to improve the health of our local community.


Dr. Patel
Bruce Douglas
Lisa Behlman




















Living Well Foundation is Wisconsin’s partner in building innovative healthcare solutions. We partner with organizations, individuals, and other foundations who support community-driven programs such as breast cancer screenings, health education, and women’s care initiatives.

If you are looking to build a health community that changes lives and improves overall quality of life, please contact us today. We’re building the Fox Cities/Green Bay area to be a leader in medicine, technology, and quality of life.

  • Expertise:
    • Enhanced understanding of high-quality clinical medicine and imaging technologies.
  • Goals
    • Create a vascular disease screening program
    • Support Women’s health initiatives
    • Help develop and bring new healthcare technologies to our community.
    • Improve the quality of medical care and practice in our community through mentorship and educational programs.

Brain Health Fitness Fair – Keynote speaker Dr Patel

The Living Well Foundation is proud to announce a Brain Health Fitness Fair at the Oshkosh Senior Center. We are excited to have Dr Patel as the keynote speaker. Dr Patel joins us from Radiology Associates of the Fox Valley and is one of the Neuroradiologist.  At this event we will focus on keeping the brain active and “fit. Following the event there will be a question/answer section.

We would like to extend this invitation to all who may be interested.


September 20, 2017  10:00am – 1:00pm


Oshkosh Senior Center

234 N Campbell Road

Oshkosh, WI 54902

Phone number: 920-232-5300

Website:  http://www.ci.oshkosh.wi.us/Senior_Services/




Living Well Foundation Projects


  • Provide practical, low-cost and high-quality education symposia to our local technologists, physicians, mid-level and allied health providers.
  • Mentor young students interested in healthcare-related programs.
  • Educate students in radiological technologist training programs.

Community Health

  • Partner with local companies, organizations, and places of worship to provide their employees/members with healthcare screening tests for early detection of vascular (carotid, aorta, peripheral arterial) disease and breast cancer.
  • Offer low-cost or free healthcare screening fairs for our community at large, including those with little or no ability to afford healthcare.
  • Arrange clinical follow-up options for those who need it.
  • Provide monetary donations and volunteer efforts to local organizations who provide support to patients in our community (eg, Fox Valley Brain Tumor Coalition).

National Partnerships

  • Delphinus Medical Technologies
    The Living Well Foundation is proud to be the recipient of a grant to trial an innovative 3D ultrasound device to detect breast cancer; a future blog post to follow will detail this further.

Local Partnerships

A note of thanks that we would like to share

After a recent Free vascular screening fair at Oshkosh Senior Center, a member of the community had this to say about our practicing professional volunteer team….


Good Morning, We just wanted to let you know we are thankful for the senior center. Thank you for providing needed services to our community. We recently attended the vascular screening. We would like to thank all the professionals involved for giving of their time. They provided a much appreciated service


Please follow Living Well Foundation for the next scheduled FREE vascular screening fair in the Fox Cities.

The screening is coordinated and led by a Physician/Ultrasound team. Not only is this event free it can detect medical problems that could save your life.

Again, The Living Well Foundation promotes and is thoroughly committed to health and wellness and vascular disease prevention in the communities throughout the Fox Valley. We would like everyone to have the opportunity to have preventive screening for vascular disease.

We are excited to be part of the community and your healthcare.

Additional details of future events to follow, stay connected.


The Living Well Foundation’s Vascular Screening Program

The Living Well Foundation’s vascular screening program is a no cost community focused service. The Foundation promotes and is thoroughly committed to health wellness and vascular disease prevention for the communities throughout the Fox Valley. The committed passion and purpose of the screening is a preventative measure for individuals asymptomatic of possible unknown vascular disease. This dedicated screening should be considered an important supplement to ones regimented healthcare plan.

The contributing risk factors regarding vascular disease may include:

  1. Previous or current tobacco use
  2. Family history
  3. High blood pressure
  4. Diabetes
  5. Age ( 55+)
  6. Diet
  7. Environment

Who we are:

The Living Well vascular screening program is staffed with practicing professional volunteers. The Physician team overseeing and reporting your results are professional practicing board registered Medical Doctors with years of specialized training in various radiology modalities including Ultrasound-X-ray-MRI-C.T.-Interventional procedures-Neuro-imaging-and specific vascular disciplines.

The Ultrasound team are practicing sonographers multi-registered, by the highest standards, through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers or ARDMS. Both the physicians and sonographers are hospital based imaging professionals with decades of imaging and healthcare experience working on a volunteer basis.


What you will experience:

The screening process will require you to make an appointment at the determined location, sign consent and release forms. No written report will be issued. A verbal result will be given by the attending physician upon completion of screening exams. If there are concerns with any of the screening exams the physician will guide and refer you back to your primary physician for needed follow-up.

Your appointment time is here: The technologist will call in and explain the screening process and exams.


1. The Carotid Screening:

The sonographer will assist you to the exam table and have you lie down. Ultrasound gel will be applied to your neck area and the technologist will move a transducer (our camera so to speak) over both the RT and Lt Carotid arteries. This will allow the physician to visualize real-time the structure and integrity of the neck arteries to observing for plaque or arterial narrowing. Approximately 5-10 minutes.

2. Abdominal Aorta Screening:

The sonographer will ask you to lift your shirt up to expose your abdomen. Ultrasound gel will be applied and the transducer moved up and down your abdomen over your aortic vessel. This portion of the test checks for enlargement of the abdominal aorta. The physician will report the results of the Carotid and Aortic exam as this portion is completed.

3. Ankle-Brachial Indices Exam:

The ABI exam will assess for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The technologist will assist you in removing your socks, shoes and rolling up your shirt sleeves. (Please attempt to wear short sleeves or loose fitting long sleeves the pressure cuff wraps around your upper arm). The sonographer will wrap inflatable cuffs to your upper arm and around both ankles. Each pressure cuff will be inflated while the technologist listens with a small transducer for arterial sounds post inflation. The physician will evaluate the acquired data from the ABI unit and verbal results of the test given. The technologist will assist you putting your socks and shoes back on. This will complete the vascular screening. Questions you might have will be answered by the physician.

Treatment Options for Low Back Pain

Many individuals will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Most who

seek treatment will begin with a conservative treatment plan that typically includes rest, ice,

anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, as well as physical therapy or chiropractic care.

If these are not sufficient, it is likely a radiographic image, CT or MRI study will be viewed by a

radiologist to determine if abnormalities in the lumbar spine may be present.

In the case of radiculopathy, image-guided injections or lumbar decompression spine

surgery are viable options to reduce pressure off a nerve and improve feeling in the legs in

these patients. [1] Osteoarthritis is a condition that may result in spinal stenosis. This occurs in

older patients more commonly than younger individuals and can also be treated with lumbar

decompression. [1] Total disc replacement or artificial disc surgery may be an appropriate

procedure for those with degenerative discs that may be causing debilitating symptoms. 1

In case of painful compression fractures refractory to conservative management, a

procedure called vertebroplasty or vertebral augmentation is a safe and effective treatment to

achieve pain relief, reduce disability and improve quality of life. In the case of spinal cancer

surgery will likely be performed with emphasis placed on removing the tumor, controlling or

reducing pain, and fixing or maintaining neurological function and spinal stability. [2]

With the ability and skills to read multiple types of diagnostic images and offer

image-guided treatments for pain relief, radiologists offer a critical service to help patients get

the necessary treatment to improve their quality of life, and in some cases, save a patient’s life.


Author 1: Braden Stoeger UWSP Biology Major

Author 2: Kunal Patel, MD



Ullrich Jr, P.F, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon. (2004, May 10). “When to See a Surgeon for Low Back

Pain.” Retrieved January 21, 2017, from


Schneider, J. H., MD. (2010, April 1). “Types of Spinal Tumors.” Retrieved January 21, 2017,

from http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spinal-tumor/types-spinal-tumors