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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2008 Jan;90(1):17-21. doi: 10.1308/003588408X242259.

'To have...or not to have'. Should computed tomography and ultrasonography be implemented as a routine work-up for patients with suspected acute appendicitis in a regional hospital?

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Department of General Surgery, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Traralgon, Victoria, Australia.



Appendicitis is a common diagnosis, but is by no means a simple one to establish. This retrospective study investigated the value of medical imaging (ultrasonography and/or computed tomography [CT]) for patients with suspected appendicitis. Negative appendicectomy rate and appendiceal perforation with or without medical imaging were used as end points for this investigation.


This study retrospectively reviewed all patients admitted in one district general hospital with suspected acute appendicitis. The patient cohort was identified from the Unit Registry and an International Classification of Diseases-based Review of medical records. The medical records were analysed, and the outcome of patients were followed up.


Between 12 January 2004 to 27 May 2005, 168 patients' medical records were audited. The negative appendicitis rate was 6.7% and appendiceal perforation rate was 3.2%. Among them, only 20 in-patients (12%) had medical imaging (ultrasonography and/or CT scan) after clinical assessment for suspected acute appendicitis. Medical imaging had a 70% prediction rate for acute appendicitis, 20% false-negative rate, and 10% false-positive rate. Overall, the prediction rate for appendicitis by clinical assessment supplemented by laboratory tests and medical imaging at clinician's discretion was 93.2%.


Despite studies advocating routine use of medical imaging for patients with suspected acute appendicitis, this study showed that the clinical evaluation is still paramount to the management of patients with suspected acute appendicitis before considering medical imaging.

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