JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aortic artery scanning. Ultrasound scanning of the abdomen of a middle-aged man, to study blood circulation in his aortic artery. A doctor moves a transducer over the patient's skin; high-frequency sound waves emitted produce an image on the ultrasound screen. The screen shows a healthy aortic artery (dark line), the main artery passing blood from the heart to the lower body. In elderly men the aorta may suffer an aneurysm, a ballooning of its walls due to disease such as atherosclerosis (fatty deposits). Regular checks by ultrasound can detect this weakening of the artery walls. If untreated by surgery, an aortic aneurysm may rupture with fatal consequences.
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