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A ten minute scan that could save a life

Published 05/07/2013
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Men aged 65 and over from Derbyshire are being encouraged to come forward for life-saving screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms (also known as AAAs) as part of a national screening programme. 

The aim of the NHS AAA Screening Programme is to reduce deaths from the condition by up to 50 percent by encouraging men aged 65 and over to come forward for screening for this potentially life threatening condition.

In some men, as they get older, the wall of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel in the abdomen, can become weak. It can then start to expand and form what is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA. If left undetected, an AAA can burst and cause severe internal bleeding which is usually fatal.

During the first year of screening over 6000 men have been screened in Derbyshire which has resulted in the detection, and in some cases treatment, of over 80 aneurysms. 

Mr John Quarmby, Clinical Director of the AAA Screening Programme and Consultant Vascular Surgeon for Derby Hospitals said: “Men who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm will not generally notice any symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Using a simple ultrasound test which is pain-free and takes less than 10 minutes, we are able to effectively identify this treatable life threatening condition. Early detection of AAAs through screening enables us to offer monitoring or treatment, reducing the number of deaths caused by the condition.”

“If we scan a patient and tell him that his aorta is fine then that is a good result. If we scan him and tell him he has an aneurysm then that is also a good result because he has been made aware of a possible life threatening condition which will then be closely monitored, ultimately with a view to having surgery at an age and a time that is best for that patient.”

Small aneurysms of up to 4.4cm will result in the patient being rescanned after a year whilst an aneurysm measuring up from 4.5cm to 5.4cm sees the patient re-scanned every three months. If a measurement of 5.5cm and over is detected then the patient will be referred to a vascular consultant in order to be considered for surgery.

Men in their 65th year will get an automatic invitation and those men aged 66 or over can self-refer for screening by contacting the Derbyshire AAA Screening Programme on 01332 789859 / 783485 quoting their ten digit NHS number to arrange an appointment or go to www.derbyhospitals.nhs.uk/about/depts/aaa/. Contact can also be made via email dhft.AAAScreening@nhs.net.

ENDS

Communications Officer

Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

liz.smith21@nhs.net   

01332 785778

Last Modified 05/07/2013