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An aneurysm is a failure of the arterial wall that results in a balloon-like dilatation of a segment of the artery. Aortic aneurysms constitute the 14th leading cause of death in the United States and the 10th leading cause of death in older men, who are the principal victims (1). Diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is important because the natural history is that of continued enlargement with potentially catastrophic consequences. Because the condition may be entirely asymptomatic, and when symptoms are present, they may be nonspecific, the internist is often the first to evaluate the patient. Thus, understanding the disease, optimal diagnostic methods, and management are crucial for primary care practitioners.
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