Influence of Preoperative Computed Tomography on Patients Undergoing Appendectomy

McDonald, Gregory P.; Pendarvis, Derek P.; Daley, Brian J.; Wilmoth, Rob
November 2001
American Surgeon;Nov2001, Vol. 67 Issue 11, p1017
Academic Journal
The frequency of computed tomography (CT) ordered by emergency department physicians at our facility was noted to sharply increase in early 1998 after a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article recommending routine CT in patients with suspected appendicitis. Numerous studies have proven the accuracy of CT for detecting acute appendicitis; however, the most appropriate use of CT continues to evolve. We sought to evaluate the effect of increased CT use on negative appendectomy rate and perforation rate at our institution and to better delineate in whom CT is most beneficial. CT use was retrospectively evaluated and found to sharply increase in April 1998. The authors then reviewed the medical records of 291 consecutive patients undergoing appendectomy 18 months before and after the NEJM article. Patients with interval appendectomies and those 12 years of age or younger were excluded. The remaining 226 patients constitute the study cohort. The study cohort was then divided into the two groups. The "Discriminate Group" consists of patients from the 18 months before the NEJM article impact and a period of selective CT use. The "Indiscriminate Group" comprises patients from the subsequent 18 months in which CT use was substantially higher and routinely obtained before surgical evaluation. After chart review an objective clinical score (Alvarado score) was assigned to each patient. Comparison was then made between the two groups on perforation rate, negative appendectomy rate, time delay to operating room, and Alvarado score. Additionally patients undergoing preoperative CT were compared with those without CT. These groups were also evaluated on the basis of negative appendectomy rate, perforation rate, and delay to the operating room. CT in patients with abdominal symptoms associated with appendicitis increased from 188 in the Discriminate Group to 1035 in the Indiscriminate Group. In the Discriminate Group the negative appendectomy rate was 15.1 per cent...


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