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Abdominal aortic aneurysms

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Abdominal scans are used to detect abdominal aorti Abdominal scans are used to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms, such as this one situated below the renal arteries

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an enlargement of the aorta. AAAs tends only to be found by chance when patients undergo some form of imaging, and in many cases AAAs goes undiagnosed until a rupture occurs.

The survival rate following rupture of AAA is only around 20%.1 To try and eliminate deaths from AAA rupture, the National Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme was set up in 2008 and screening has been offered throughout the UK since 2013. All men in their 65th year are invited to attend screening.

With the implementation of the screening programme, nurses working in primary care will come into contact with men invited for screening or patients undergoing regular surveillance of known AAA.

This article provides an update for practice nurses, reviewing knowledge and the evidence relating to the causes, management and treatment of patients with known AAA.

What is AAA?
An aneurysm is an area of localised enlargement or dilation of a blood vessel. The word aneurysm comes from the Greek work aneurysma, meaning ‘a widening’.

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