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US Preventive Services Task Force
Evidence Report
December 10, 2019

Primary Care Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Tacoma
  • 2Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates Evidence-based Practice Center, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, Oregon
JAMA. 2019;322(22):2219-2238. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.17021

Importance  Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) have mortality estimated at 81%.

Objective  To systematically review the evidence on benefits and harms of AAA screening and small aneurysm treatment to inform the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, PubMed (publisher supplied only), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for relevant English-language studies published through September 2018. Surveillance continued through July 2019.

Study Selection  Trials of AAA screening benefits and harms; trials and cohort studies of small (3.0-5.4 cm) AAA treatment benefits and harms.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators independently reviewed abstracts and full-text articles and extracted data. The Peto method was used to pool odds ratios (ORs) for AAA-related mortality, rupture, and operations; the DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model was used to pool calculated risk ratios for all-cause mortality.

Main Outcomes and Measures  AAA and all-cause mortality; AAA rupture; treatment complications.

Results  Fifty studies (N = 323 279) met inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of population-based randomized clinical trials (RCTs) estimated that a screening invitation to men 65 years or older was associated with a reduction in AAA-related mortality over 12 to 15 years (OR, 0.65 [95% CI, 0.57-0.74]; 4 RCTs [n = 124 926]), AAA-related ruptures over 12 to 15 years (OR, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.55-0.70]; 4 RCTs [n = 124 929]), and emergency surgical procedures over 4 to 15 years (OR, 0.57 [95% CI, 0.48-0.68]; 5 RCTS [n = 175 085]). In contrast, no significant association with all-cause mortality benefit was seen at 12- to 15-year follow-up (relative risk, 0.99 [95% CI 0.98-1.00]; 4 RCTs [n = 124 929]). One-time screening was associated with significantly more procedures over 4 to 15 years in the invited group compared with the control group (OR, 1.44 [95% CI, 1.34-1.55]; 5 RCTs [n = 175 085]). Four trials (n = 3314) of small aneurysm surgical treatment demonstrated no significant difference in AAA-related mortality or all-cause mortality compared with surveillance over 1.7 to 12 years. These 4 early surgery trials showed a substantial increase in procedures in the early surgery group. For small aneurysm treatment, registry data (3 studies [n = 14 424]) showed that women had higher surgical complications and postoperative mortality compared with men.

Conclusions and Relevance  One-time AAA screening in men 65 years or older was associated with decreased AAA-related mortality and rupture rates but was not associated with all-cause mortality benefit. Higher rates of elective surgery but no long-term differences in quality of life resulted from screening.