The IVC and Aorta

The inferior vena cava  (IVC) and aorta are both seen in most cases, as in the ultrasound scan in the right. It is possible for a novice to confuse the two.

The aorta is situated anterior to the vertebral bodies and left of midline, whereas the IVC lies to the right of midline. The aorta tapers and tends to be tortuous and move to the left. It can be calcified anteriorly which can make the ultrasound view more difficult.

Main features of IVC
  • Right side
  • Thin walled
  • Compressible
  • Transmitted pulse (‘double bounce’)
  • Almond shaped
  • Shape varies
Main features of the aorta
  • Left side
  • Thick walled
  • Will not compress
  • Pulsatile
  • Round
  • Constant shape
  • Superior mesenteric artery (SMA) demonstrated
  • Moves anteriorly to accommodate the lumbar lordosis