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Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: The U-Boat in the Belly

Fernando Santiago, MD
JAMA. 1987;258(13):1732. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400130046020.
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To the Editor.—  I have assessed abdominal aortic aneurysms using the criteria adopted by the US Preventive Services Task Force in cooperation with the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination1 and I have concluded that this condition should be strongly considered for inclusion in the health protection package for persons above the age of 50 years. My findings are as follows:

  1. The current burden of suffering: At least ten to 40 persons per thousand population over the age of 50 years harbor these lesions, which have been shown to be more quickly lethal than untreated carcinoma. The great majority are symptomless until they end in catastrophic rupture.2

  2. The maneuver for detection: An ultrasound examination of the abdominal aorta will detect an abdominal aortic aneurysm in essentially 100% of cases.3,4 This study is easy to perform, noninvasive, and relatively inexpensive.3 In contrast, 67 of 218 proved


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