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Implications of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms on surgical workload. BJS 2005; 92: 171-176.

Published: 25th October 2004

Authors: L. G. Kim, R. A. P. Scott, S. G. Thompson, J. Collin, G. E. Morris, G. L. Sutton et al.

Background

The Multicentre Aneurysm Screening Study (MASS) provided strong evidence for both the clinical benefit and the cost‐effectiveness of a screening programme for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) in men. If a national screening programme for AAA were adopted in the UK, it would be expected to increase the elective and decrease the emergency surgical workload.

Method

The MASS trial randomized 67 800 men aged 65–74 years to be invited to attend for ultrasonographic screening for AAA or to a control group that received no invitation. Predictions of elective and emergency surgical workload were made for a 20‐year interval after the introduction of a screening programme for 65‐year‐old men, based on surgical rates observed in the MASS trial and national mortality statistics.

Results

For a district general hospital serving a population of 400 000, there was an estimated reduction from nine emergency operations per year before introduction of the screening programme to three emergency operations annually in men aged 65 years and over by the end of the 20‐year interval, and an increase from 24 to 43 AAA operations overall. The corresponding estimated annual costs for all AAA surgery increased by 47 per cent, from £209 000 to £308 000. These results were not affected by changes in the underlying assumptions.

Conclusion

The results support the expectation of very few emergency operations, and principally elective operations, being performed following the introduction of a screening programme. For a typical district general hospital, a screening programme would be expected to lead to two additional elective AAA operations per month, and to save 11 AAA‐related deaths per year. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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