Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
A one-time USG abdomen for screening for AAA in smokers above the age of 65 helps pick up aneurysms and save lives
I am in the process now of building the components of an ideal health check-up that balances the diagnosis of medical problems that when treated or addressed can help us live long healthy, with the ability to avoid unnecessary, needless testing and its attendant costs, logistical nightmares and the associated stress.
One component of a health check-up is screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
An aneurysm is an abnormal enlargement of a blood vessel. It is important because it sometimes can rupture and bleed. If not treated immediately, this can lead to instantaneous death. Most aneurysms in the body are typically detected when there are warning signs with microleaks or when scanning or testing is done for some other reason or when they press upon some important structures in the body like nerves, which then lead to symptoms.
It stands to reason therefore that if we can screen for aneurysms in the body on a regular basis and pick them up before they rupture, we can treat them early and avoid catastrophic situations in the future. The problem is that when a vessel, such as the aorta, which is the big artery that carries blood from the heart to all the structures in the body, starts becoming big, it is tough to know when and if it will eventually become an aneurysm and even it does, whether and when it will rupture. Aneurysms are otherwise not common and screening for them in a general population is just a waste of time and money and often leads to the pick-up of incidental findings that only cause stress without helping us to live long, healthy.