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J Endovasc Ther. 2014 Aug;21(4):568-75. doi: 10.1583/13-4626MR.1.

Misdiagnosis of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm: systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Outcomes Research, St George's Vascular Institute, St George's Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK.



To quantitatively summarize the incidence of misdiagnosis of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (rAAA), the most common presenting features, and the commonest incorrect differential diagnoses.


A systematic search according to PRISMA guidelines was performed using EMBASE and MEDLINE databases to identify studies reporting the initial rate of misdiagnosis of patients with rAAA. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed to estimate the rate of misdiagnosis, presenting features, and commonest differential diagnoses. A sensitivity analysis was performed for studies reporting after 1990.


Nine studies comprising 1109 patients contributed to the pooled analysis, which found a 42% incidence of rAAA misdiagnosis (95% CI 29% to 55%). In studies reporting after 1990, misdiagnosis was seen in 32% (95% CI 16% to 49%). The most common erroneous differential diagnoses were ureteric colic and myocardial infarction. Abdominal pain, shock, and a pulsatile mass were presenting features in 61% (49%-72%), 46% (32%-61%), and 45% (29%-62%) of rAAAs, respectively.


The rate of misdiagnosis of rAAA has remained consistent over time and is concerning. There is a need for an effective clinical decision tool to enable accurate diagnosis and triage at the scene of the emergency.


diagnosis; meta-analysis; ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm; systematic review

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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