Surveillance intervals for small abdominal aortic aneurysms: A meta-analysis

Charles Mccollum, Matthew J. Bown, Michael J. Sweeting, Louise C. Brown, Janet T. Powell, Simon G. Thompson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Importance: Small abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs [3.0 cm-5.4 cm in diameter]) are monitored by ultrasound surveillance. The intervals between surveillance scans should be chosen to detect an expanding aneurysm prior to rupture. Objective: To limit risk of aneurysm rupture or excessive growth by optimizing ultrasound surveillance intervals. Data Sources and Study Selection: Individual patient data from studies of small AAA growth and rupture were assessed. Studies were identified for inclusion through a systematic literature search through December 2010. Study authors were contacted, which yielded 18 data sets providing repeated ultrasound measurements of AAA diameter over time in 15 471 patients. Data Extraction: AAA diameters were analyzed using a random-effects model that allowed for between-patient variability in size and growth rate. Rupture rates were analyzed by proportional hazards regression using the modeled AAA diameter as a time-varying covariate. Predictions of the risks of exceeding 5.5-cm diameter and of rupture within given time intervals were estimated and pooled across studies by random effects meta-analysis. Results: AAA growth and rupture rates varied considerably across studies. For each 0.5-cm increase in AAA diameter, growth rates increased on average by 0.59 mm per year (95% CI, 0.51-0.66) and rupture rates increased by a factor of 1.91 (95% CI, 1.61-2.25). For example, to control the AAA growth risk in men of exceeding 5.5 cm to below 10%, on average, a 7.4-year surveillance interval (95% CI, 6.7-8.1) is sufficient for a 3.0-cm AAA, while an 8-month interval (95% CI, 7-10) is necessary for a 5.0-cm AAA. To control the risk of rupture in men to below 1%, the corresponding estimated surveillance intervals are 8.5 years (95% CI, 7.0-10.5) and 17 months (95% CI, 14-22). Conclusion and Relevance: In contrast to the commonly adopted surveillance intervals in current AAA screening programs, surveillance intervals of several years may be clinically acceptable for the majority of patients with small AAA. ©2013 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)806-813
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2013


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