AAA Screening Success

NHS Forth Valley continues to have one of the highest uptake rates in Scotland for a screening test which could be a life-saver for men aged 65.

The first results to be officially published from a programme designed to spot an abdominal aortic aneurysm show that almost 2,400 men in Forth Valley accepted the invitation to be checked for the period ending March 2014, representing an uptake rate of 87%. Aneurysms of various sizes were detected in 32 patients – 29 small, two medium and one large.

Since then attendance rates have continued to be high. Initial local figures for the quarter ending June 2015, show that 375 men out of the 445 eligible turned up for their appointment – an 84.3% uptake. There were also 16 self-referrals.

NHS Forth Valley Radiology Department Manager Sandra Robertson says the response has been extremely encouraging. She explained: “Our figures show that the majority of men contacted are continuing to accept our invitation for screening. This simple process could literally be a life-saver.

We hold weekly triple-A screening clinics in our community hospitals in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire, the ultrasound scan takes just 10 minutes and the result is available instantly.”

An aneurysm forms when the aorta, the main artery which supplies blood to the body from the heart, becomes weak and balloons out. As the wall of the aorta stretches it becomes weaker and could rupture. This leads to life-threatening internal bleeding and in 8 out of l0 cases could prove fatal. Small or medium aneurysms rarely cause trouble but it is important to monitor them in case they get bigger. About one in 20 men in Scotland have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, most of who are unaware.

The screening test is a simple ultrasound scan of the abdomen which takes around 10 minutes and results are available instantly. Most men have a normal result and are discharged from the screening programme. Men with detected small or medium aneurysms are invited for regular surveillance screening to check the size of the aneurysm. Men with large aneurysms are referred to vascular specialist services.

The Scottish AAA screening programme aims to reduce deaths associated with the risk of aneurysm rupture in men aged 65 and over by identifying aneurysms early so that they can be monitored or treated. . Further information about the AAA national screening programme can be found at Men over the age of 65 who have never been for AAA screening can self-refer by calling 0800 22 44 88.