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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

What it is

An aneurysm (AN-u-rism) is an abnormal bulge or “ballooning” in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. The aorta is the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It travels through the chest and abdomen. An aneurysm that occurs in the aorta in the abdomen is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Doctors use ultrasounds to find these aneurysms.

Why the screening is important

An aneurysm that grows and becomes large enough can burst, causing dangerous, often fatal, bleeding inside the body. About 15,000 Americans die each year from ruptured aortic aneurysms. Ruptured aortic aneurysm is the 10th leading cause of death in men over age 50 in the United States.

If found early, many aneurysms can be treated before they rupture.  Because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms, it is important to look for them in people who are at the highest risk. Experts recommend that men who are 65 to 75 years old and have ever smoked (at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime) should be checked for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Who is covered

People at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm are covered for this screening. Your doctor will determine if you are at risk at your “Welcome to Medicare” exam.

How often it is covered

The screening is covered one time, and as long as you receive a referral for this screening during your “Welcome to Medicare”exam.

What you pay

You pay nothing for cost of this service if you have Original Medicare and you see a doctor who “accepts assignment.” Doctors who accept assignment agree to accept the amount that Medicare will pay for a visit or service (called the Medicare-approved amount) as payment in full.

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan cannot charge you for this service as long as you see an “in-network” provider, meaning a doctor who has an agreement to treat people who belong to the plan. If you use a provider outside your plan's network, it may cost you money.

Learn more about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening on Medicare.gov.

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