The Role of Selective Computed Tomography n the Diagnosis and Management of Suspected Acute Appendicitis

Hershko, Dan D.; Sroka, Gideon; Bahouth, Hany; Mahajna, Ahmad; Krausz, Michael M.; Ghersin, Eduard
November 2002
American Surgeon;Nov2002, Vol. 68 Issue 11, p1003
Academic Journal
The negative appendectomy rate in patients with clinically diagnosed acute appendicitis is 20 to 40 per cent. Recently CT has emerged as a powerful diagnostic tool in the evaluation of suspected appendicitis and its routine use has been advocated. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of selective use of abdominal CT on the negative appendectomy rate. Three hundred eight patients were enrolled in this prospective study. Abdominal CT was performed in patients with uncertain clinical signs of appendicitis. CT was not performed in patients with either a very high or a very low index of suspicion. The results were compared with a retrospective analysis of 85 consecutive patients operated by clinical diagnosis alone. One hundred twenty-seven patients had a final diagnosis of acute appendicitis. CT was performed in 198 patients (64%). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of CT scans were 91, 92, and 91 per cent, respectively. Surgical management plans were altered in 54 patients after obtaining the CT results; unnecessary delay in surgical treatment or unnecessary operations were prevented in 28 and 26 patients, respectively. In addition CT detected unrelated pathologies in 23 patients. CT was not performed in patients with low index of suspicion and none were found to suffer from acute appendicitis. The negative appendectomy rate was 17 per cent (7% men and 24% women) in patients selected for surgery on the basis of very high clinical suspicion alone. Overall the negative appendectomy rate with the selective use of CT was 16 per cent, which is significantly lower than the rate achieved by diagnosing patients on clinical grounds alone (24%). CT is highly accurate in diagnosing or ruling out acute appendicitis and may substantially decrease the negative appendectomy rate as well as unnecessary delayed observation. We believe that CT should be performed routinely in women with suspected appendicitis and selectively in men.


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