Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening: programme overview

How the NHS abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme works: who is eligible, what it does and learn how to contact the programme.

Screening is the process of identifying individuals who appear healthy but may be at increased risk of a disease or condition.

The process is not perfect and in every screen there are a number of false positives and false negatives.

Evidence and recommendations

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) assesses evidence and makes recommendations to the 4 UK governments about population screening programmes.

Screening tests

The NHS abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme is available for all men aged 65 and over in England.

The programme aims to reduce AAA related mortality among men aged 65 to 74.

A simple ultrasound test is performed to detect AAA. The scan itself is quick, painless and non-invasive and the results are provided straight away. A result letter is also sent to all patients’ GPs.

There is a clear pathway to care. Healthcare professionals should be familiar with the pathway and the timeframe in which to refer patients.

Every man who attends for screening must read the AAA screening patient data information. Men must understand and agree to the NHS keeping and using their personal information before the screening takes place. The screener must record the man’s consent.

Education and training

Read about the education and training for healthcare professionals working in abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

This includes e-learning and other training resources.


All commissioners must follow the service specification, and supporting documents to ensure an effective programme is set up, and the programme meets the standards set by the national screening programme.

Local programmes must refer to treatment centres that follow the Vascular Society for Great Britain and Ireland (VSGBI) framework for improving the results of elective AAA repair.

IT requirements

Systematic screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms requires the handling and recording of call and recall information and the recording and managing of ultrasound images. Local AAA screening providers must use the national Screening Management and Referrals Tracking (SMaRT) IT system and ensure that they record the national minimum data set.

The guidelines on handling patient information explain how to use and safeguard personal data in screening.

Failsafe process

The failsafe document describes the failsafe processes which sit alongside the care pathway. The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) provides guidance on managing serious incidents in the screening process.


Organisations applying to conduct research using AAA screening data should refer to the research terms of reference, and research application guidance, before completing the research application form.

Contact the screening programme

NHS population screening helpdesk

PHE Screening
Floor 5
Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road


The helpdesk is not for media enquiries and does not have access to screening results. For queries about results, contact your GP or local screening service. Order screening leaflets at

Published 2 January 2015
Last updated 27 July 2015 + show all updates
  1. Added link to guidance on doing research using AAA screening data.
  2. First published.