Diagnosis & Tests

There are a number of tests available that can help diagnose an aneurysm.

Physical Exam

When your healthcare provider presses on your abdomen during a physical examination, they may be able to feel an abdominal aortic aneurysm. They may also hear a telltale “rushing” sound in your abdomen with a stethoscope.

However, aneurysms often don’t cause symptoms and can’t be found during a physical exam. ”Silent” aneurysms are sometimes discovered during surgery or when an x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or echocardiogram is done for another reason.

If you fall in either of the two categories below, you should consider having an abdominal ultrasound to screen for the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm:

  • Men aged 60 and older who have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm 
  • Men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked

If you fall in either of the two categories below, you should ask your healthcare provider about being screened for intracranial aneurysm:

  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Strong family history of intracranial aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage (at least 2 family members)

There is currently insufficient evidence to recommend that women receive a screening abdominal ultrasound, regardless of smoking history.


This procedure uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your body, and can reveal an aneurysm and its size. 

Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend other tests, including:

CT Scan

These use x-rays to take pictures of your internal organs. The technician will inject dye into your vein that will show up on the x-ray images, revealing the aneurysm’s size and shape. A CT scan provides a more detailed image than an ultrasound.


Magnetic resonance imaging uses magnets and radio waves to create images of the inside of your body. This test is very accurate at detecting aneurysms and pinpointing their size and exact location.


During an angiogram, the technician injects a special dye into a blood vessel so that it can be seen and examined for problems.


Last Updated August 2020