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AAA Screening

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening was introduced from April 2013 for all men aged 65, who are automatically invited for this process. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening and expansion of the aorta, the main blood vessel in the body. Large aneurysms are rare but can be very serious.

  • Men aged 65 and over are eligble for screening

  • The NHS invites men for AAA screening during the year thet turn 65

  • Men over 65 who have not been screened oreviously can arrange for a screening appointment by contactng their local programme directly

  • Screening involves an ultrasound scan that takes around 10 minutes

  • The NHS AAA screening programme aims to reduce deaths from ruptured AAA amongst men aged 65 and over by up to 50%

What is screening?

Screening is a process of identifying apparently healthy people who may be at increased risk of a disease or condition. They can then be offered information, further tests and appropriate treatment to reduce their risk and/or any complications arising from the disease or condition.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) assesses the evidence for screening programmes against a set of internationally recognised criteria to ensure screening does more good than harm.

The UK NSC website includes an animated explanation of the screening process and a screening timeline showing optimum ages for screening throughout a person's life.

Why is screening important?

If you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm you will not generally notice any symptoms. This means that you cannot tell if you have one, as you will not feel any pain or notice anything different.

The NHS offers screening in order to find aneurysms early so they can be checked regularly or treated if needed. The easiest way to find out if you have an aneurysm is to have an ultrasound scan of your abdomen.

The NHS AAA Screening Programme was introduced after research showed it should reduce the number of deaths from burst aneurysms among men aged 65 and over by up to 50%.

Men who feel they need more information before deciding whether to be screened should visit the AAA screening patient decision aid website that aims to help people make an informed choice about screening based on an understanding of the possible benefits and risks and their own values.

What happens during the screening test?

The screening test for AAA is a simple, pain-free ultrasound scan of the abdomen that usually takes less than 10 minutes.

At the clinic, the screening technician checks your details, explains the scan and gives you the chance to ask any questions.

They then ask you to lie down and lift up or unbutton your shirt. You will not need to undress. The technician will put a cool jelly on your abdomen and then move a small scanner over the skin. The scan will show a picture of the aorta on a screen that the technician will measure.

You will be told your result straight away and your GP will be informed.

For more information visit the AAA Screening website, or pick up a leaflet from  reception.

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