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J Surg Res. 2008 Jun 15;147(2):221-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2008.03.004. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Management of pediatric acute appendicitis in the computed tomographic era.

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Department of Surgery, The Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.



The treatment options for complicated appendicitis in children continue to evolve. Optimal management of complicated appendicitis relies on an accurate preoperative diagnosis. We examined the accuracy of our preoperative diagnosis including computed tomography (CT) and the influence on the management of children with perforated and nonperforated appendicitis.


Following IRB approval, a 6-year review of all patients that underwent an appendectomy for suspected appendicitis was performed. Treatments included immediate operations and initial nonoperative management (antibiotic therapy +/- percutaneous drainage of abscess). Appendicitis was confirmed by histological examination.


One thousand seventy-eight patients underwent appendectomy for suspected appendicitis. Preoperative CT scans were performed in 697 (64.7%) patients: 615 (88.2%) positive for appendicitis; 42 (6.0%) negative; and 40 (5.7%) equivocal. One hundred seventy-three (28.1%) positive CT scans further suggested perforation. Initial nonoperative management was initiated in 39 (22.5%) cases of suspected perforated appendicitis with abscess. The positive-predictive value (PPV) for suspected acute appendicitis based on history and physical examination alone was 90.8%. The PPV for positive CT scan for acute appendicitis was 96.4% with a PPV of 91.9% for positive CT scan for perforated appendicitis.


The correct preoperative diagnosis of appendicitis appears statistically more accurate with CT scan compared to history and physical examination alone (PPV 96.4% versus 90.8%, P = 0.045). For those with clinically suspicious complicated appendicitis, CT evaluation may direct therapy toward initial nonoperative management. The efficacy of this regimen warrants further investigation.

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