Research Article

Diagnosis and management of 528 abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 01 August 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:355
  1. J W Fielding,
  2. J Black,
  3. F Ashton,
  4. G Slaney,
  5. D J Campbell


    Between 1960 and 1979 528 patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms presented to the university department of surgery. Of these, 222 (42%) were elective cases, 72 acute (14%), 174 had ruptured (33%), and four had had a spontaneous aortoduodenal fistula (1%). In all these patients resections were undertaken, but in another 56 patients (11%) the aneurysm was not resected. A review of these cases showed that 91% had symptoms at their first presentation; abdominal pain and backache being most common. The diagnosis could be established in 91% by the presence of pulsatile abdominal mass on clinical examination. The operative mortality for elective resection was 8%, for acute 19%, for ruptured cases 42%, and for spontaneous aortoduodenal fistula 50%. After successful resection the overall five-year survival was 65% by the life table method, and there was no significant difference between elective, acute, and ruptured cases. This five-year survival after resection compares favourably with the expected 76% survival of a similar normal population, and was considerably better than that for conservatively treated patients. As most cases have symptoms, and diagnosis may be established easily by routine physical examination in 91%, the prognosis for this condition could be considerably improved by increased awareness of its existence and early referral for treatment as an elective surgical procedure.