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Pediatr Radiol. 2009 Apr;39 Suppl 2:S144-8. doi: 10.1007/s00247-008-1105-5.

Optimizing the role of imaging in appendicitis.

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G1X8, Canada.


Acute appendicitis is the most common acute abdominal condition that requires surgical intervention in childhood. From the diagnostic performance perspective, computed tomography (CT) has a significantly higher sensitivity than does ultrasound (US) for diagnosing appendicitis in children; from the safety perspective, however, one should consider the radiation associated with CT, especially in children. There is strong evidence supporting improved patient outcomes in children with suspected acute appendicitis who undergo CT scanning. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that for a single abdominal CT study in a 5-year-old child, the lifetime risk of radiation-induced cancer would be 26.1 per 100,000 in female and 20.4 per 100,000 in male patients, based on probabilistic models designed with data from atomic bomb survivors. An integrated clinical-imaging approach, applying clinical scores that are able to predict which children with acute abdominal pain do or do not have a high probability of presenting with appendicitis may improve the effectiveness of the imaging diagnosis of appendicitis at the hospital level. Such an approach could avoid exposure of children who at low risk for appendicitis to unnecessary diagnostic tests and eventually, to radiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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