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Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

Published on 13 April 2022

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.

Where does AAA screening take place?

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

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.

Further information for participants:

Find further information on the NHS Inform website. This includes details around:

  • what happens at the appointment
  • benefits and risks
  • the differences between small, medium or large aneurysms

Further abdominal aortic aneurysm screening information leaflets are available from NHS Health Scotland. You can access these in an easy read version or in other languages.

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 Information Services Division Scotland website.

Lead clinician

Mr Douglas Orr, National Lead Clinician

NSD contact

Please note that NSD does not directly provide medical services and we won't be able to answer queries about your own care or appointments. If you would like to discuss any aspects of your care, please contact your primary healthcare provider. This might be your GP, Consultant, Nurse or other healthcare professional. They will be best placed to give you the right advice.