• Susana Costa Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) - Universidade do Porto
  • Rui Machado Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) - Universidade do Porto; Serviço de Angiologia e Cirurgia Vascular, Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto
  • Rui Almeida Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar (ICBAS) - Universidade do Porto; Serviço de Angiologia e Cirurgia Vascular, Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto
Keywords: Abdominal aortic aneurysm, Screening, Ultrasonography, Economic viability, Surveillance


Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs most often in older men, Caucasian, with history of smoking or family history of AAA. AAA seems to have indication for population screening for its prevalence (4-8%) and mortality (80-90%); existence of a latency period until aneurysm rupture; use of an efficient, economic and safe screening technique; and treatment with a low mortality rate. The objective of this work was to perform a critic analysis of the results of AAA population screening programs and their impact on mortality. It was also analyzed if the decrease in the prevalence in the last decade will have implications in the viability of these programs. The randomized trials MASS, Chichester and Viborg showed that the screening of AAA is feasible, even 13 to 15 years after the begging of the program. Two of the trials have proven that screening AAA is cost-effective. The trial performed in Australia revealed to be ineffective, probably due to a high incidental diagnosis. The meta-analysis of these studies has shown that population-based screening for AAA reduces the AAA-related mortality by 4 per 1000 men with 65 years or more and reduces all-cause mortality in the long-term, by 5 per 1000. A cohort study with 61,982 participants reported a reduction in the number of ruptured aneurysms and reduction of mean aortic diameter over 20 years. Recent studies suggest that screening of AAA is economically viable up to a prevalence of 0.5% in men and 1.1% in women. Statistical models have shown that screening of AAA has benefits comparable to other screening programs. The implementation of AAA population screening programs in the male population over 65 years-old is viable and clinically relevant, contributing to a reduction in mortality related to AAA. The screening in women, at least with history of smoking, appears to have legitimacy, but more evidence is needed to determine its viability. According to data of “Aorta não avisa” and “Aorta é Vida” programs the prevalence of AAA in Portugal is around 4%, which seems to justify the implementation of a population screening program in the country.


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Review Article