Objective: In 2007, Medicare guidelines were established to identify persons at risk for the presence of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the 5-year outcomes of an AAA screening program in a regional Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Methods: Data were extracted from a regional VA health care network identifying all veteran males 65 to 75 years of age who smoked at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime. In 2007, an AAA screening mandate was implemented allowing patients meeting screening criteria to be evaluated for AAA as part of the patient's health maintenance. AAA is identified as an aortic diameter size of 3.0 cm or greater. Clinician adherence to screening protocols and referral to a vascular surgeon for aneurysms >5.5 cm were also evaluated. Results: A total of 9751 patients (71.5 ± 5.6 standard deviation years of age) were screened for an AAA over a 5-year period from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2011. A total of 698 aneurysms (7.1%) were found. Referrals to a vascular surgeon were made on 45 patients with aneurysms >5.5 cm. Over a 5-year period, a total of 2754 patients (28.2%) were inappropriately screened: 416 patients were under 65 years old, 2243 patients were over 75 years old, 36 patients were women, and 123 patients without aneurysms had multiple screenings. In 2007, during the first year of implementation, 39.2% of patients were inappropriately screened. Over the next 4 years, inappropriate screenings decreased with 33.7% in 2008, 28.6% in 2009, 17.7% in 2010, and 14.3% in 2011. Conclusions: A large AAA screening program at the VA detects more aneurysms, but at smaller diameters than that published in clinical trials. Over time, the number of inappropriate AAA screenings has continued to decrease, demonstrating greater awareness and application of the AAA screening guidelines by primary care providers. Developing surveillance guidelines for small and medium aneurysms is a potential area for future research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine