Your abdominal aortic aneurysm screening results 

Your abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) scan will produce one of four possible results: a normal-sized aorta, a small aneurysm, a medium aneurysm, or a large aneurysm.

What happens next depends on the size of your abdominal aorta.

If your scan is normal

If the ultrasound scan shows your abdominal aorta is a normal size (less than 3cm in diameter) this means you don’t have an AAA.

Should this happen, you won’t be invited back for another scan as an AAA grows slowly, and the chances of you developing one after the age of 65 are very small.

If you’re found to have a small or medium AAA

If the scan shows you have a small (3.0-4.4cm) or medium (4.5-5.4cm) aneurysm, you won't need any treatment at this stage.

You will be invited back for regular scans to check the size of the aneurysm, however, in case it gets bigger. 

You’ll be invited for a scan every year if you have a small aneurysm, and every three months if you have a medium aneurysm.

Because aneurysms grow so slowly, men with a small or medium aneurysm may never need treatment.

You’ll also be given advice on how you can prevent the aneurysm from getting bigger, including:

  • stopping smoking
  • eating a balanced diet
  • ensuring you maintain a healthy weight
  • taking regular exercise
  • taking medication on the advice of your GP – for example, to reduce blood pressure

Read more about how to slow the growth of an aneurysm.

If you are found to have a large AAA

If the scan shows you have an AAA that is 5.5cm or larger, you will be referred to a vascular surgeon (a surgeon who specialises in diseases of the blood vessels), who may recommend an operation.

You should be seen by the surgeon within two weeks of your screening appointment.

The surgeon will discuss treatment options with you, taking into account your general health and fitness, as well as the size of your AAA.

There are two main options for surgery, which are:

  • open surgery – where the surgeon cuts into your stomach (abdomen) to reach the abdominal aorta and replace the enlarged section with a synthetic tube called a graft
  • endovascular surgery – a type of "keyhole" surgery where the surgeon makes small cuts in your groin and guides the graft through a leg artery up into the swollen section of aorta to reinforce the wall

If you’re not fit or well enough to undergo surgery, or you don’t want to have surgery, you will be offered lifestyle advice and possibly medication. This can help slow down the growth of an AAA and reduce the risk of a rupture.

Read detailed information about treating a large AAA, including the advantages and disadvantages of different types of surgery.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm: What happens if you have a large AAA

The following short film explains what it means if you have a large aneurysm detected by screening.

Media last reviewed: 12/05/2016

Next review due: 12/05/2018

Page last reviewed: 30/08/2014

Next review due: 30/08/2017