Abdominal CT scanning in reproductive-age women with right lower quadrant abdominal pain: does its use reduce negative appendectomy rates and healthcare costs?

Morse, Bryan C.; Roettger, Richard H.; Kalbaugh, Corey A.; Blackhurst, Dawn W.; Hines Jr., William B.; Hines, William B Jr
June 2007
American Surgeon;Jun2007, Vol. 73 Issue 6, p580
Academic Journal
journal article
Although acute appendicitis is the most frequent cause of the acute abdomen in the United States, its accurate diagnosis in reproductive-age women remains difficult. Problems in making the diagnosis are evidenced by negative appendectomy rates in this group of 20 per cent to 45 per cent. Abdominal CT scanning has been used in diagnosing acute appendicitis, but its reliability and usefulness remains controversial. There is concern that the use of CT scanning to make this diagnosis leads to increased and unwarranted healthcare charges and costs. The purpose of our study is to determine if abdominal CT scanning is an effective test in making the diagnosis of acute appendicitis in reproductive-age women (age, 16-49 years) with right lower quadrant abdominal pain and to determine if its use is cost-effective. From January 2003 to December 2006, 439 patients were identified from our academic surgical database and confirmed by chart review as undergoing an appendectomy with a pre- or postoperative diagnosis of acute appendicitis. Data, including age, presence and results of preoperative abdominal CT scans, operative findings, and pathology reports were reviewed. Comparison of patients receiving a preoperative CT scan with those who did not was performed using chi-squared analysis. In the subgroup of reproductive-age women, there was a significant difference in negative appendectomy rates of 17 per cent in the group that received abdominal CT scans versus 42 per cent in the group that did not (P < 0.038). After accounting for the patient and insurance company costs, abdominal CT scan savings averaged $1412 per patient. Abdominal CT scanning is a reliable, useful, and cost-effective test for evaluating right lower quadrant abdominal pain and making the diagnosis of acute appendicitis in reproductive-age women.


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