Ultrasonographic screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm in an urban community

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Abstract

As part of the Birmingham Community Aneurysm Screening Project, 3500 men aged 65–75 years from 20 urban general practices were invited for aortic ultrasonographic screening at their own general practitioner's surgery; 2669 (76.3 per cent) attended. Compliance rates varied between catchment areas, from 52.1 per cent for inner-city areas to 89.6 per cent for suburbs. Successful aortic imaging was achieved in 97.3 per cent of scans. Aortic diameter > 29 mm occurred in 219 patients (8.4 per cent) and 79(3.0 per cent) with a diameter > 40 mm were referred for vascular surgical assessment; 140 patients with an aortic diameter of 29–40 mm are currently undergoing follow-up by serial ultrasonographic examinations at intervals of 3 months at their doctor's surgery. Risk factor analysis revealed ischaemic heart disease in 21.9 per cent of men with aneurysm, compared with 11.6 per cent in those without (P < 0.001); 18.3 per cent of men with aneurysm had had a previous myocardial infarction and 13.2 per cent had peripheral vascular disease, compared with 7.4 per cent (P < 0.001) and 8.0 per cent (P < 0.01) respectively of those without. No association was found between aneurysm and hypertension or diabetes. Community-based aortic screening is an inexpensive, effective method of diagnosis of aneurysm, with high compliance from the at-risk cohort of an urban population. Such screening programmes may help to reduce the mortality rate from aortic aneurysm rupture.

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