AAA screening

Q. I am a 72-year-old male in excellent health. I have been diagnosed with a 3.7-centimeter aortic aneurysm. My doctor recommends an ultrasound every six months. Are six-month checks adequate? And when should surgery be considered?

A. I assume this is an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and that it was detected by a screening exam, not because you had a symptom such as back pain. Indeed, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening all men who have ever smoked and are between 65 and 75. The test is a simple, entirely safe abdominal ultrasound, and it need not be repeated if it's normal.

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