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Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms: single centre randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 31 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:750

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Jes S Lindholt, senior lecturer (jes.s.lindholt{at},
  2. Svend Juul, senior lecturer2,
  3. Helge Fasting, consultant1,
  4. Eskild W Henneberg, consultant1
  1. 1 Vascular Research Unit, Department of Vascular Surgery, Sygehus Viborg, DK-8800 Viborg, Denmark,
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to: J S Lindholt
  • Accepted 14 January 2005


Objective To determine whether screening Danish men aged 65 or more for abdominal aortic aneurysms reduces mortality.

Design Single centre randomised controlled trial.

Setting All five hospitals in Viborg County, Denmark.

Participants All 12 639 men born during 1921-33 and living in Viborg County. In 1994 we included men born 1921-9 (64-73 years). We also included men who became 65 during 1995-8.

Interventions Men were randomised to the intervention group (screening by abdominal ultrasonography) or control group. Participants with an abdominal aortic aneurysm > 5 cm were referred for surgical evaluation, and those with smaller aneurysms were offered annual scans.

Outcome measures Specific mortality due to abdominal aortic aneurysm, overall mortality, and number of planned and emergency operations for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Results 4860 of 6333 men were screened (attendance rate 76.6%). 191 (4.0% of those screened) had abdominal aortic aneurysms. The mean follow-up time was 52 months. The screened group underwent 75% (95% confidence interval 51% to 91%) fewer emergency operations than the control group. Deaths due to abdominal aortic aneurysms occurred in nine patients in the screened group and 27 in the control group. The number needed to screen to save one life was 352. Specific mortality was significantly reduced by 67% (29% to 84%). Mortality due to non-abdominal aortic aneurysms was non-significantly reduced by 8%. The benefits of screening may increase with time.

Conclusion Mass screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms in Danish men aged 65 or more reduces mortality.


  • Contributors All authors planned the project, revised the article, and approved the final manuscript. JSL collected the data. JSL and SJ are guarantors. They accept full responsibility for the work and conduct of the study, had access to the data, carried out the analyses, and controlled the decision to publish.

  • Funding Health department of Viborg County, Danish Heart Foundation, Danish National Council of Health Research, Foundation of Research in Western Denmark, and Foundation of Rosa and Asta Jensen.

  • Conflict of interest None.

  • Competing interest None declared.

  • Ethical approval The trial was approved by the local scientific ethics committee of the counties of Viborg and Nordjylland.

  • Accepted 14 January 2005
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