Algorithm May Reduce CT Use In Appendicitis Diagnosis

An algorithm designed to diagnose pediatric patients with suspected appendicitis can help physicians reduce the utilization of CT scans, without affecting diagnostic accuracy, according to a study published in Surgery by researchers at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.

The study compared pediatric patients under the age of 18 who underwent an appendectomy for acute appendicitis before and after algorithm implementation. Researchers studied 331 pediatric cases over the course of five years and found that CT utilization decreased from 39% to 18% after the algorithm was in place.

Researchers found that when the algorithm was implemented, use of CT scans in patients dropped by more than 50%, without affecting diagnostic accuracy, suggesting that reducing the use of CT scans when evaluating patients for appendicitis is safe and cost-effective.

CT scans are often used to diagnose acute appendicitis, the most common cause of acute abdominal pain in children, because they are accurate, widely available, and have the ability to provide clinicians with advanced information in appendicitis cases suspected of complications. However, CT scans expose patients to ionizing radiation and add to the cost of care.

“This algorithm was developed by a multidisciplinary group of pediatric emergency room physicians, pediatric surgeons and radiologists to eliminate unnecessary exposure to radiation,” says Michael B. Ishitani, MD, lead study author.
Source: Mayo Clinic