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MHF backs evidence for AAA screening

The MHF has hit back at suggestions that the introduction of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm could do more harm than good.

James Johnson, of Runcorn's Halton Hospital, told the British Medical Journal that surgery to prevent a rupture could be more risky than leaving the aneurysm untreated. Johnson, a former leader of the BMA, said: 'We know that aneurysms with a diameter of less than 5.5 cm are so unlikely to burst that the mortality from operating on them is greater than the likelihood of rupture. Even when the aneurysm grows to more than 5.5 cm, what happens next is not always straightforward.

Although in an otherwise healthy patient the risk of rupture is greater than that of surgery, aneurysm patients are seldom otherwise healthy.'

He went on to qualify his remarks by saying: 'I am not saying screening should not happen, I just think we should look into it more carefully.'

But the idea has been looked into very carefully. The Department of Health talks of a 'substantial body of evidence' and estimates that the programme could eventually save 700 lives a year.

MHF president Dr Ian Banks said: 'The Forum campaigned for this important programme to save men's lives. The government must rely on the evidence and stick to its commitment and timetable to introduce screening for AAAs. This evidence comes from vascular surgeons and research teams who spent years researching how a national screening programme for AAAs would work, the NHS screening committee did extra work looking at how it would be implemented.

'Men in Gloucestershire have been benefitting from AAA screening for 15 years, it is now time for men across the country to have the one-off and simple scan.'

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Page created on April 21st, 2008

Page updated on December 1st, 2009