Article Text

PDF
Controversies
The ethics of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm in men
  1. Roger Brownsword1,
  2. Jonothan J Earnshaw2
  1. 1Centre for Technology, Law, Ethics and Society (TELOS), King's College, London, UK
  2. 2NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, Department of Vascular Surgery, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Gloucester, UK
  1. Correspondence toMr J J Earnshaw, Department of Vascular Surgery, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN, UK; jjearnshaw{at}tiscali.co.uk

Abstract

Approximately 6000 men die every year from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in England and Wales. Randomised clinical trials and a large pilot study have shown that ultrasound screening of men aged 65 years can prevent about half of these deaths. However, there is a significant perioperative morbidity and mortality from interventions to repair the detected aneurysm. This paper explores the ethical issues of screening men for abdominal aortic aneurysm. It is concluded that a population screening programme for abdominal aortic aneurysm offers a clear balance of good over harm. It is therefore ethically justified, as long as men are given adequate information at every stage of the process. Each man has the right to be properly informed, regardless of whether he accepts the invitation to be screened and, if an aneurysm is detected, whether or not he accepts treatment.

  • Medical screening
  • aortic aneurysm
  • aneurysm screening
  • screening ethics
  • ethics committees/consultation
  • general

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Footnotes

  • A copy of the information given to men on invitation can be found on the screening website(http://aaa.screening.nhs.uk).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.