Men eligible for screening are sent an invitation letter around three weeks before their appointment. They are given a date and time for their scan and an information leaflet. Invitations are sent from their local screening office containing full details about attending for screening, the test and the possible results. If the time or date is inconvenient, men can reschedule their appointment.
If you have an aneurysm you will not generally notice any symptoms. This means that you cannot tell if you have one, as you will not feel any pain or notice anything different. We offer screening so we can find aneurysms early and monitor or treat them. This greatly reduces the chances of the aneurysm causing serious problems. The easiest way to find out if you have an aneurysm is to have an ultrasound scan of your abdomen.
If you are a man aged over 65 you are more likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. That is why the NHS AAA screening programme invites men for screening during the year they turn 65.
Men over 65 who have not previously been diagnosed with an aneurysm can request a scan by contacting their local programme directly.
Men only need one scan during the year in which they turn 65 to screen for AAA. Men who do not have an aneurysm do not need any follow up. Men over 65 who have not previously been screened or diagnosed with an aneurysm can self refer directly to the programme by contacting us on 0191 445 8747
The North East of England and North Cumbria Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme screen at a number of clinics across the North East and North Cumbria. The North East programme covers the whole of the North East region of England, including:
- County Durham
- Newcastle upon Tyne
- Redcar and Cleveland
- It also covers selected areas of North Yorkshire
The UK National Screening Committee makes UK-wide policies on screening. However, it is up to each part of the UK to determine when, and how, to put those policies into practice. This means there are some differences in the screening services available depending on whether you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Visit the UK National Screening Committee website for more information.
It is estimated that, once fully implemented, the programme will reduce the death rate from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms among men aged 65 and over by up to 50 per cent.
It is estimated that around 1 in 70 men in England aged between 65 and 74 have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Most of these are small and not serious. However, a small AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) can increase in size and develop into a large AAA which is a serious condition.
If an AAA ruptures it is a surgical emergency as it can lead to serious blood loss. The death rate after rupture is about 80 per cent because many patients die before they reach hospital. The aim of the screening programme is to detect and treat large AAA early in order to reduce the number of deaths from rupture.
The scan used to find aneurysms is very reliable. No screening test can be completely effective, but it is rare for a man who does not have an aneurysm at screening to develop a large aneurysm. Sometimes the person carrying out the scan will not be able to see the aorta clearly. This is nothing to worry about and they will ask you to have another scan, usually on a different day.
The risk of developing an AAA increases through close family history. Both men and women who have a close relative – brother, sister or parent – who has, or has had, an AAA can receive an ultrasound scan at an appropriate age under existing NHS procedures and should speak to their GP to discuss a referral. First degree relatives of men with an AAA are advised to consider requesting a scan at an age five years younger than their relative was diagnosed. Close relatives of men with an AAA should take the usual health precautions of not smoking, having a cholesterol and blood pressure check and staying healthy.
An ultrasound scan of the abdomen is used to look for an AAA – this is similar to the scan used in pregnancy to check how a baby is developing. The test is simple, quick and painless. The test is carried out by a sonographer or specially trained screening technician. You can click here for more information on the procedure.
Occasionally the screening technician cannot see the aorta or measure it accurately. This is nothing to worry about and the man is invited for a further scan.
Attending for AAA screening is a choice and there is no obligation to attend. If a man has considered the test and decided he does not wish to be screened he can contact us and ask to be removed from their list.
It is estimated that for every 1000 men screened by the NHS AAA Screening Programme, fifteen will have an aneurysm, but only one will have a large aneurysm that may require treatment.