Dr. Michael Barry MD Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School

USPSTF Clarifies Screening Recommendations for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Michael Barry MD Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School

Dr. Barry

Dr. Michael Barry MD
Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program
Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital
Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit
Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge in the wall of the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the lower part of the body. While AAA often has no signs or symptoms, the aneurysms can grow silently and burst without warning, which can be deadly. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm location

Abdominal aortic aneurysm location
Wikipedia image

Response: The Task Force found that men ages 65 to 75 who smoke or used to smoke should receive one-time screening for AAA. Women who have never smoked and have no family history of the condition should not be screened.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The key takeaway from this recommendation is that men aged 65 to 75 who smoke or used to smoke are likely to benefit from one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm. Men aged 65 to 75 who have never smoked may want to consider screening. Women who have never smoked and have no family history of AAA should not be screened.

It’s important to note that whether someone may benefit from screening for AAA depends on several risk factors including their sex, age, smoking status, and family history. It’s critical that clinicians discuss these risk factors with their patients to help them make an informed decision about how best to approach AAA screening, taking into account their individual risk level, as well as their values and personal preferences. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: As part of this recommendation, the Task Force is calling for more research on the benefits and harms of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm in women who have ever smoked or have a family history of the condition, since we were not yet able to make a recommendation for this group. Further research is also needed to help us better understand what size AAAs in women should be treated and to determine whether someone whose first screening result shows they do not have abdominal aortic aneurysm should ever be screened again and how often. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: While screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm can be lifesaving, just like any procedure, it can also cause harms. For example, screening can find aneurysms that would have never ruptured, leading to unnecessary surgeries that may result in serious health problems and even death. Because of the potentially serious harms of treatment, it’s important to only screen people for whom the benefits are likely to outweigh the potential harms.

Citations:

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2019;322(22):2211–2218. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.18928

Guirguis-Blake JM, Beil TL, Senger CA, Coppola EL. Primary Care Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2019;322(22):2219–2238. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.17021 

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Last Modified: Dec 18, 2019 @ 6:46 pm

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