Costs of abdominal aortic aneurysm care at a regional Veterans Affairs medical center with the implementation of an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening program

Published:October 12, 2021DOI:



      Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening has demonstrated to be cost-effective in reducing AAA-related morbidity and all-cause mortality. However, the downstream care costs of an implemented AAA screening in clinical practice have not been reported. The purpose of this study is to determine direct regional Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) costs in implementing and sustaining an AAA screening program over a 10-year period.


      A cost data analysis (adjusted to 2021 U.S. dollars) of an AAA screening program was conducted from 2007 to 2016, where 19,649 veteran patients aged 65-75 with a smoking history were screened at a regional VA medical center. A decision support system tracked direct and indirect encounter costs from Medicare billing codes associated with AAA care. Costs from a patient’s initial screening, follow-up imaging, to AAA repair or at the end of the analysis period, March 31, 2021, were recorded. Costs for AAA repairs outside the VA system were also tracked.


      A total of 1,183 patients screened were identified with an AAA ≥3.0 cm without history of repair. Estimated screening costs were $2.8 million or $280,000 annually ($143/screening) in the care of 19,649 screened patients. There were 221 patients who required repair (143 repairs in VA, 78 repairs outside VA). The average cost of elective endovascular repair was $43,021 and that of open repair was $49,871. The total costs for all elective repairs were $9,692,591. Screening, implementation, maintenance, and surgical repair cost involved in the management of patients with AAA disease was $13.7 million, with $10,686 per life-year lived after repair (5.8 ± 3.5 mean life-years) and $490 per life-year lived after screening (6.9 ± 3.5 mean life-years) for all patients screened. There were 13 deaths of unknown causes and one patient with a ruptured AAA that required emergency repair at a cost of $124,392.


      Despite known limitations, the implementation of an AAA ultrasound screening program is feasible, cost-effective, and a worthwhile endeavor.


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