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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to your body. It runs from your heart down through your chest and abdomen. In some people, as they get older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak. It can then start to expand and form an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The condition is most common in men aged 65 and over. If you have an aneurysm you will not usually notice any symptoms. Screening can help to find an aneurysm early so that it can be monitored or treated. Around 1 in 70 men who are screened have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Large aneurysms are rare but can be very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches it becomes weaker and can burst, causing internal bleeding.

Who can be screened?

The NHS invites all men for screening in the year they turn 65. Men aged over 65 who have not been screened before can contact the screening office to arrange a scan (please see contact details below) or complete and return this self-referral form.

Who is most at risk?

Men are six times more likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm than women, which is why women are not offered screening. The chance of having an aneurysm increases with age.

Your chance of having an abdominal aortic aneurysm can also increase if:

What will happen at the screening appointment?

We use a simple ultrasound scan to look at the aorta in your abdomen. The appointment usually lasts around 10 minutes. We are usually able to give you your result straight away.

There are four possible results:

  1. Normal - if your aorta is less than 3cm wide, no treatment or monitoring is needed afterwards.
  2. Small aneurysm - if your aorta is between 3cm and 4.4cm wide, you will be invited for surveillance scans every 12 months to check if it is getting bigger.
  3. Medium aneurysm - if your aorta is between 4.5cm and 5.4cm wide, you will be invited for surveillance scans every 3 months to check if it is getting bigger.
  4. Large aneurysm - if your aorta is 5.5cm wide or larger, you will be referred to a Vascular Consultant to talk about possible treatment, usually an operation.

Where does screening take place?

The Five Rivers AAA Screening Programme is a community-based service covering East Suffolk, North East Essex and the Colne Valley. Screening is offered in around 60 locations across the Five Rivers area. Men are invited to their local hospital, GP surgery or health clinic for their screening appointment.

AAA Screening is available nationwide. Further information regarding screening in other areas can be accessed on the NHS Choices website below.

Contact details

Five Rivers AAA Screening Programme
Colchester Hospital
Turner Road

Telephone: 01206 74 6282 / 6283

Opening hours: Monday - Friday (9am - 5pm), Saturday appointments are available on request.

Further information

More information can be found on the NHS Choices website

Information leaflets are available in easy read format and different languages on the Public Health England website

An audio version of the leaflet is also available by contacting the screening office.