Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is the most common form of aortic aneurysm. It involves a localized dilatation of the abdominal aorta that exceeds the normal diameter by more than 50%.

Generally, AAAs don’t cause symptoms, although they can cause pain in the abdomen, back or legs. AAAs can also lead to a life-threatening rupture when large amounts of blood spill into the abdominal cavity. Mortality of rupture repair in the hospital is 60 to 90%.

Treatment is usually recommended when an AAA grows to > 5.5 cm in diameter. Previously, AAAs could only be treated with open surgery, but today most are treated with Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR). These are associated with a lower risk of death than open surgery.

AAAs occur most often in men, smokers and people between 65 and 75 years old. There is moderate evidence to support screening in individuals with risk factors for AAAs (e.g., males 65 years of age and older).

Approximately 90% of AAAs occur below the kidneys. However, they can also occur above or at the kidneys. Such aneurysms can extend to include one or both iliac arteries in the pelvis.