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J Vasc Surg. 2012 May;55(5):1296-1304. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2010.10.118. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Systematic review of guidelines on abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

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Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Usually, physicians base their practice on guidelines, but recommendations on the same topic may vary across guidelines. Given the uncertainties regarding abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening, physicians should be able to identify systematically and transparently developed recommendations. We performed a systematic review of AAA screening guidelines to assist physicians in their choice of recommendations.


Guidelines in English published between January 1, 2003 and February 26, 2010 were retrieved using MEDLINE, CINAHL, the National Guideline Clearinghouse, the National Library for Health, the Canadian Medication Association Infobase, and the G-I-N International Guideline Library. Guidelines developed by national and international medical societies from Western countries, containing recommendations on AAA screening were included. Three reviewers independently assessed rigor of guideline development using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument. Two independent reviewers performed extraction of recommendations.


Of 2415 titles identified, seven guidelines were included in this review. Three guidelines were less rigorously developed based on AGREE scores below 40%. All seven guidelines contained a recommendation for one-time screening of elderly men by ultrasonography to select AAAs ≥ 5.5 cm for elective surgical repair. Four guidelines, of which three were less rigorously developed, contained disparate recommendations on screening of women and middle-aged men at elevated risk. There was no agreement on the management of smaller AAAs.


Consensus exists across guidelines on one-time screening of elderly men to detect and treat AAAs ≥ 5.5 cm. For other target groups and management of small AAAs, prediction models and cost-effectiveness analyses are needed to provide guidance.

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