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BMJ. 2002 Dec 14;325(7377):1387.

Evaluation of early abdominopelvic computed tomography in patients with acute abdominal pain of unknown cause: prospective randomised study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ. cng@mdanderson.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the impact of early abdominopelvic computed tomography in patients with acute abdominal pain of unknown cause on length of hospital stay and accuracy of diagnosis.

DESIGN:

Randomised, prospective controlled trial.

SETTING:

Teaching hospital in England.

PARTICIPANTS:

120 patients admitted with acute abdominal pain for which no immediate surgical intervention or computed tomography was indicated.

INTERVENTION:

55 participants were prospectively randomised to early computed tomography (within 24 hours of admission) and 65 to standard practice (radiological investigations as indicated).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Length of hospital stay, accuracy of diagnosis, and, owing to a possible effect on inpatient mortality, deaths during the study.

RESULTS:

Early computed tomography reduced the length of hospital stay by 1.1 days (geometric mean 5.3 days (range 1 to 31) v 6.4 days (1 to 60)), but the difference was non-significant (95% confidence interval, 8% shorter stay to 56% longer stay, P=0.17). Early computed tomography missed significantly fewer serious diagnoses. Seven inpatients in the standard practice arm died. Only 50% (59 of 118) of diagnoses on admission were correct at follow up at 6 months, but this improved to 76% (90) of diagnoses after 24 hours.

CONCLUSIONS:

Early abdominopelvic computed tomography for acute abdominal pain may reduce mortality and length of hospital stay. It can also identify unforeseen conditions and potentially serious complications.

PMID:
12480851
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC138513
Free PMC Article

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