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Ann Emerg Med. 1992 Dec;21(12):1423-9.

Plain abdominal radiography in the detection of major disease in children: a prospective analysis.

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1
Department of Emergency Medicine, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Florida.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

To prospectively evaluate previously described high-yield clinical criteria for obtaining plain abdominal radiographs in the emergency evaluation of children.

DESIGN:

Prospective, observational study.

SETTING:

Emergency departments of a university medical center and an affiliated county hospital.

PARTICIPANTS:

Three hundred fifty-four children 15 years old or younger who underwent plain abdominal radiography during a one-year period.

METHODS AND MEASUREMENTS:

Physicians ordering plain abdominal radiographs completed data forms that included historical and physical examination information before viewing films. At a later date, records of all patients were reviewed for radiologist interpretation and final diagnosis. The data were analyzed to determine the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of previously described high-yield criteria (from a retrospective series) in detecting radiographs that were diagnostic or suggestive of "major" abdominal disease.

MAIN RESULTS:

Sixty-one patients (17%) had major diseases potentially requiring procedural intervention (eg, appendicitis, ingested foreign bodies, and intussusception), whereas 296 patients (83%) had minor diseases not requiring procedural intervention (eg, gastroenteritis and nonabdominal diagnoses). The presence of any of the following features--prior abdominal surgery, foreign body ingestion, abnormal bowel sounds, abdominal distention, or peritoneal signs--was 93% sensitive and 40% specific in detecting diagnostic or suggestive radiographs in patients with major disease. Positive and negative predictive values were 11% and 99%, respectively. If only these criteria had been used to obtain radiographs, 38% of films would have been omitted (at an estimated savings of $20,000) with only two suggestive radiographs missed.

CONCLUSION:

Our results suggest that restricting abdominal radiographs to patients with at least one of these five high-yield clinical features will detect most diagnostic and suggestive radiographs in children with major abdominal diseases.

PMID:
1443835
DOI:
10.1016/s0196-0644(05)80053-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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