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Digestive Disorders

Abdominal pulsation

06/13/2002

Question:

What can cause visible abdominal pulsation in a healthy male in his thirties? Have been told that abdominal aortic aneurysm is highly unlikely, but what are some other possible causes?

Answer:

If the abdominal pulsation corresponds to the heartbeat or pulse, then it is almost always caused by a vascular structure. In many healthy (and presumably thin) people, the pulsations of the aorta can be felt by hand and even be visible to the naked eye. This does not mean that an aneurysm is present. I do not believe that any of the other major arterial blood vessels can be seen to pulsate no matter how thin you are. If the pulsations do not correlate with the heartbeat and are irregular, then this is likely just muscular contractions of the intestines.

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Response by:

John D Long, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati