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Br J Surg. 1993 May;80(5):582-4.

High prevalence of unsuspected abdominal aortic aneurysm in patients with confirmed symptomatic peripheral or cerebral arterial disease.

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Department of Surgery, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London, UK.


A group of 561 consecutive patients with proven symptomatic peripheral or cerebral arterial disease attending a vascular clinic was screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) using B-mode ultrasonography. An aneurysm was present in 40 of 358 men (11.2 per cent) and 13 of 203 women (6.4 per cent), a total prevalence of 9.4 per cent. Thirty-three aneurysms were 3-4 cm in diameter. The prevalence of AAA was similar in patients referred with lower-limb and with cerebral ischaemia. Physical examination for AAA was performed in 200 patients before ultrasonography. The sensitivity of physical examination in the detection of aneurysm was 43 per cent (57 per cent for AAA > or = 4 cm in diameter, 29 per cent for AAA < 4 cm in diameter). Physical examination was an inadequate method of screening. Initial follow-up showed a mean aneurysm expansion rate of 0.20 cm/year. Patients with arterial disease have a high risk of AAA; routine ultrasonographic screening should be considered.

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