Floating aorta sign

The floating aorta sign refers to displacement of the abdominal aorta away from the vertebral column.

It is a radiographic/CT sign of retroperitoneal masses.

Radiographic findings

On lateral lumbar spine radiographs, the expected location of the posterior aortic wall is expected to be ≤10 mm from the anterior margin of spine in men and ≤7.3 mm in women.

Similarly, the anterior aortic wall is within 40 mm in men and 37.3 mm in women.

Any retroperitoneal masses arising posterior to the aorta can insinuate between the aorta and the vertebral column and displace the aorta anteriorly; and hence the term floating aorta sign.

Share article

Article information

rID: 12695
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    "Floating aorta s...
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.