A large body of evidence from four international randomised controlled trials (RCT) on abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening indicate that ultrasound-based screening in elderly men with a high prevalence (4 %–7 %) reduces AAA-related mortality by 40 % through early AAA detection and increased preventive elective repair and subsequently halves rupture incidence. Coinciding with the planned launch of national AAA screening programs, a dramatic change in AAA epidemiology became evident: a lower AAA prevalence in the targeted population of men and falling mortality rates, most likely related to a drop in rates of smoking, and a paradoxical increase in elective AAA repairs. These changes have called AAA screening in today’s context into question. Sweden was the first country to provide national coverage with an AAA screening program targeting 65-year-old men. The scientifically evaluated screening initiative, started in 2006, reported the lower than expected prevalence (1.7 %) in 65-year-old men early on. Cost-effectiveness seems to be maintained despite the altered epidemiology, as shown in a health-economic study. The current prevalence of AAA among Swedish women is very low, and general population-based screening of women is likely to be futile, although targeted screening among female smokers should be evaluated. Sub-aneurysmal aortas detected at screening are likely to progress to a true AAA within 5 years, indicating a need for continued surveillance in this group. Differences in screening compliance seem to be linked to socio-economic factors. The aim of this topical review is to highlight AAA screening within a Swedish context and point to areas where information is lacking and further research is needed.
Gefässchirurgie – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 19, 2014
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