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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is responsible for the NHS Central England Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme.

The vascular department at UHB provides screening to men aged 65+ within Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, South East Staffordshire and East Staffordshire.

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.

Men due to turn 65 will be automatically invited for screening. Men aged over 65 who have not been screened before can contact the programme to arrange a test.

Is an abdominal aortic aneurysm serious?

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.

Around 85 out of 100 people die when an aneurysm bursts.

An aorta, which is only slightly larger than normal, is not dangerous. However, it is still important to know about it so that we can check if the aneurysm is getting bigger.

How common is the condition?

Around 1 in 70 men who are screened have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Why is screening important?

If you have an aneurysm, you will not usually notice any symptoms. This means you cannot tell if you have one, will not feel any pain and will probably not notice anything different.

We offer screening so we can find aneurysms early and monitor or treat them. This greatly reduces the chance of the aneurysm causing serious problems.

What will happen when I go for screening?

We use a simple ultrasound scan, similar to that offered to pregnant women. This is very quick and usually lasts less than 10 minutes.

At the clinic we will check your personal details, explain the scan and give you the chance to ask any questions.

We will ask you to lie down and lift or unbutton your shirt. You will not need to undress. We will put a cool gel on your abdomen.

We will then slide the scanning sensor over your skin. The scan will show a picture of the aorta on a screen and we will measure it.

We will tell you your result straight away and also send a copy to your GP practice.

Contact us

For further information or to arrange an appointment please get in touch.

Last reviewed: 13 February 2023