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Screening for AAA

 

Key facts

  • Men aged 65 and over are eligible for AAA screening
  • The NHS invites men for AAA screening during the year
    they turn 65
  • Men over 65 who have not been screened previously can arrange a screening appointment by contacting 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%
 

More detail

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.

Who is invited for AAA screening?

If you are a man aged over 65 you are more likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. That is why the NHS AAA Screening Programme invites men for screening during the year (1 April to 31 March) that they turn 65.

Men over 65 who have not previously been screened or diagnosed with an aneurysm can request a scan by contacting their local programme directly.

The following short film explains how men are invited for screening.

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%.

The following short film explains the benefits and risks of accepting the invitation for AAA screening for men aged 65 to 74 over 10 years. Click on full screen to view the film in full screen mode.

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.

The following short film explains what happens during an AAA screening test.

 
 
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AAA screening: a choice for men aged 65 and over
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Do you need support and information to help you decide whether to take up the offer of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm?
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YES PLEASE
Go to the new patient decision
aid for AAA screening
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Go to NHS AAA Screening
Programme website
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