Does early ultrasonography affect management of pediatric appendicitis? A prospective analysis.
BACKGROUND: Appendicitis remains a difficult diagnosis in children. Ultrasonography is increasingly used for the diagnosis of appendicitis, although the proper clinical role for this test remains unclear. METHODS: To evaluate the clinical utility of ultrasonography in appendicitis, the authors analyzed prospectively all children evaluated for possible appendicitis from January 1 through December 31, 1997. Children with a high clinical suspicion of appendicitis were referred for surgery (n = 122). Children with equivocal findings of appendicitis were referred for early ultrasonography (EUS) and formed the study cohort (n = 103). An initial management plan was made to operate or observe each patient, and a risk of appendicitis (doubtful, possible, probable) was assigned by a pediatric surgery fellow. EUS was then performed, and its effect on management was assessed. RESULTS: Using clinical judgment to operate at initial presentation, the sensitivity was 38% and specificity was 95%. Using EUS alone, the sensitivity was 87% and specificity was 88%. The management of 30 of 103 patients (30%) was changed after EUS, including a decision to operate in 28 patients and a decision not to operate in two patients. CONCLUSIONS: EUS appears to have substantial clinical utility in children with equivocal findings of appendicitis, and its use complements the clinical management. The use of EUS can improve patient care and reduce hospital resource utilization.
Rice, HE; Arbesman, M; Martin, DJ; Brown, RL; Gollin, G; Gilbert, JC; Caty, MG; Glick, PL; Azizkhan, RG
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