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AAA Screening

Public Health

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

Latest Publications

Published: 01 March 2016
Scottish Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme Statistics, March 2016 Release
Publication Summary Download pdf file [82kb]
Full Report Download pdf file [309kb]

A screening programme for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) for men aged 65 was implemented in Scotland in line with the advice from the UK National Screening Committee (NSC). A phased roll-out of the programme took place from June 2012. NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles were the first NHS Boards to implement the screening programme and by November 2013 all NHS Boards were participating.

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling of the aorta, the main artery in the body, as it passes through the abdomen. As some people get older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak and balloon out to form an aneurysm. The condition is most common in men aged 65 and over and usually there are no symptoms.

Large aneurysms are uncommon but can be very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches, it becomes weaker, and it can rupture (burst). If the aneurysm ruptures, this leads to life-threatening internal bleeding and, in 8 out of 10 cases, death.

The Scottish AAA screening programme aims to reduce deaths associated with the risk of aneurysm rupture in men aged 65 and over by identifying aneurysms early so that they can be monitored or treated. The screening test is a simple ultrasound scan of the abdomen which takes around 10 minutes. Men aged 65 are invited to attend AAA screening and men aged over 65 can self-refer into the screening programme. Most men have a normal result and are discharged from the screening programme. Men with detected small or medium aneurysms are invited for regular surveillance screening to check the size of the aneurysm. Men with large aneurysms are referred to vascular specialist services for further investigation and to discuss treatment options.

Further information on the AAA screening programme in Scotland can be found on the NHS Inform website.

AAA Screening Programme Statistics

In March 2016, the first Scottish Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme Statistics report was published. The publication provides information on invite and uptake rates and screening results for men eligible for screening to 31 March 2014, and self-referrals and surveillance screens to 31 March 2015.


For general enquiries on AAA screening data and publications, please email:


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