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Arch Surg. 2011 Jan;146(1):64-7. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.2010.297.

Decreased use of computed tomography with a modified clinical scoring system in diagnosis of pediatric acute appendicitis.

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Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Use of a modified clinical grading score improves accuracy in diagnosing acute appendicitis in the pediatric population while decreasing the use of computed tomography (CT).


Retrospective medical records review after approval by the institutional review board. We determined the Alvarado score for each patient and correlated it with the pathological findings and imaging studies to evaluate the efficacy of CT and its attendant radiation exposure.


Community teaching hospital.


Sixty-one patients, aged 3 to 16 years, admitted with suspected acute appendicitis.


Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the modified Alvarado scoring system.


The standard Alvarado score for acute appendicitis had a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 82%, with an accuracy of 92%. In the modified Alvarado scoring system, CT findings were substituted for Alvarado scores in the ranges of 5 or 6, 5 to 7, 5 to 8, and 5 to 9. The modification resulted in the greatest accuracy (98%) in diagnosing appendicitis in patients with scores in the range of 5 to 7. This modification theoretically would have decreased the use of CT by about 27% in this group of retrospectively studied patients. Furthermore, in patients with Alvarado scores of 1 to 4, another diagnosis should be considered; in patients with scores of 5 to 7, CT should be performed; and, in patients with scores of 8 to 10, an appendectomy should be performed promptly without further studies.


The modified Alvarado score is useful as an aid in diagnosing acute appendicitis in the pediatric population. This scoring system eliminates unnecessary use of CT and the attendant potential cancer-inducing radiation in the pediatric population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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