Men – especially those over 65 – are four+ times more likely than women to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). These aneurysms usually occur in the aorta, just below the kidneys. Early on in their development, patients will not notice any pain or discomfort. As they enlarge, however, patients may have intermittent back or abdominal pain. Larger aneurysms can burst and lead to death within a few minutes. Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screenings use ultrasound to easily detect these aneurysms. Referring providers and their patients use the results to determine how best to monitor (e.g., with subsequent ultrasound studies) or manage it (e.g., catheter procedure, surgery or medication). The risk criteria include:
Men over age 65
History of smoking
Family history of AAA
High blood pressure
AAA and insurance
Since 2005, Medicare has paid for a one-time preventive ultrasound screening for early detection of AAAs for at-risk patients. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 covers this exam one time for men of specified ages who have ever smoked. Listed under For Medicare Part B, patients must get a referral from their doctor for it as a result of their “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. People with Medicare who are eligible for an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening must meet one of these criteria:
They have a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms
They are a man age 65 to 75 and have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime
This “Welcome to Medicare” study is covered and Wake Radiology requires a signed physician order. When this exam is performed for diagnostic purposes, insurance coverage must be confirmed. Wake Radiology recommends that patients check with their insurance carrier before scheduling their AAA screening to confirm coverage and payment.
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