Late diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysms substantiates underutilization of abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for Medicare beneficiaries. Journal of vascular surgery Mell, M. W., Hlatky, M. A., Shreibati, J. B., Dalman, R. L., Baker, L. C. 2013; 57 (6): 1519-1523 e1


Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening remains largely underutilized in the U.S., and it is likely that the proportion of patients with aneurysms requiring prompt treatment is much higher compared with well-screened populations. The goals of this study were to determine the proportion of AAAs that required prompt repair after diagnostic abdominal imaging for U.S. Medicare beneficiaries and to identify patient and hospital factors contributing to early vs late diagnosis of AAA.Data were extracted from Medicare claims records for patients at least 65 years old with complete coverage for 2 years who underwent intact AAA repair from 2006 to 2009. Preoperative ultrasound and computed tomography was tabulated from 2002 to repair. We defined early diagnosis of AAA as a patient with a time interval of greater than 6 months between the first imaging examination and the index procedure, and late diagnosis as patients who underwent the index procedure within 6 months of the first imaging examination.Of 17,626 patients who underwent AAA repair, 14,948 met inclusion criteria. Mean age was 77.5 ± 6.1 years. Early diagnosis was identified for 60.6% of patients receiving AAA repair, whereas 39.4% were repaired after a late diagnosis. Early diagnosis rates increased from 2006 to 2009 (59.8% to 63.4%; P < .0001) and were more common for intact repair compared with repair after rupture (62.9% vs 35.1%; P < .0001) and for women compared with men (66.3% vs 59.0%; P < .0001). On multivariate analysis, repair of intact vs ruptured AAAs (odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 2.7-3.6) and female sex (odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-1.5) remained the strongest predictors of surveillance. Although intact repairs were more likely to be diagnosed early, over one-third of patients undergoing repair for ruptured AAAs received diagnostic abdominal imaging greater than 6 months prior to surgery.Despite advances in screening practices, significant missed opportunities remain in the U.S. Medicare population for improving AAA care. It remains common for AAAs to be diagnosed when they are already at risk for rupture. In addition, a significant proportion of patients with early imaging rupture prior to repair. Our findings suggest that improved mechanisms for observational management are needed to ensure optimal preoperative care for patients with AAAs.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jvs.2012.12.034

View details for PubMedID 23414696