NI Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm AAA Screening


The NI Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening programme was introduced in July 2012 to reduce premature deaths from ruptured AAAs by up to 50%. A simple, pain-free ultrasound scan of the abdomen is used to identify otherwise apparently healthy people who may be at increased risk of an AAA.

An AAA is a swelling of the main artery in the body as it passes through the abdomen. They are more common in men aged 65 and older – the programme’s target demographic. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or having a close relative who has had an AAA. Aneurysms usually cause no symptoms - most people with an AAA will not know they have one.

Since the programme started, all men in NI have been sent an invitation for screening during the year they turn 65. Men over 65 can self-refer by contacting the programme office on 02890 631828. In October 2014, we were delighted to have our 1,000th man self-refer to the programme!

To date, the programme has screened over 20,000 men and identified over 300 AAAs. Thirty-seven of these men with AAAs have been referred to the Vascular Service within the Royal Victoria Hospital and undergone potentially life-saving surgery; the remaining 270 men are being monitored as part of an ongoing surveillance programme (annually or every three months depending on the size of their AAA).

The Public Health Agency oversees the programme which is delivered by the Belfast Trust across the whole of NI. Our team is truly multidisciplinary involving nurses, radiographers, screening technicians, administrative staff, vascular surgeons, interventional radiologists and management at all levels.

Clinics are currently provided at 19 venues across Northern Ireland.

For further information:
Phone: (028) 9063 1828