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Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

Published on 31 July 2023

This page provides more information on how the AAA programme is managed and run.

If you would like more information on what screening means for you as a participant, visit the NHS Inform page.

The aim of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening is to find aneurysms (bulges in blood vessels) early and monitor or treat them.

Screening for an AAA greatly reduces the chances of it rupturing and causing serious problems.

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

It's a widening of the main artery in the body, as it passes through the abdomen. The walls of the artery weaken, causing it to balloon out.

Usually, the aneurysm causes no symptoms and most people are not aware they have it. However, about a third of these will rupture (burst) if treatment doesn't happen.

Who gets the screening and how does it work?

The programme offers screening to all men in their 65th year. At the age of 65, about 1 in every 65 men will have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Men older than 65 years can opt into the programme and request screening through their local screening centre.

Screening is done using a simple ultrasound scan. Test results are usually given on the day. If a serious aneurysm is found, referral to a consultant surgeon is generally the next step. At this point, patients may need surgery or more detailed tests.

Where does AAA screening take place?

We coordinate governance arrangements for the AAA Screening Programme. It operates out of eight screening centres across Scotland. Details of the centres are available on the NHS Inform website. Eligible participants will receive an invite for screening in the post.

Further information for health professionals:

Find the screening standards for the programme on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

For programme statistical information and trend data, visit the Public Health Scotland website.

Lead clinician

Mr Douglas Orr, National Lead Clinician

NSD contact

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