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Ann Surg. 1985 Aug;202(2):166-75.

Abdominal CT scanning in critically ill surgical patients.


Clinical parameters, intensive care unit (ICU) course, abdominal computed tomography (CT) scans, and the clinical decisions of 53 critically ill patients were reviewed to determine the influence of the CT scan. No scans were positive before the eighth day. Sensitivity was 48% and specificity, 64%. Seventeen (23%) scans of the 72 provided beneficial results: eight localized abscesses that were drained; nine were negative and not operated on. Five (7%) scans provided detrimental information: scan negative with abscess discovered or scan positive but negative laparotomy. Fifty (70%) scans were either of no help or not used in management. The mortality rate was 50% when CT led to an intervention, and 47% in the entire group. Hospital charges were +33,408. Personnel time and cost were 497 hours and +3658; of the total +37,066, 77% (+28,541) could be considered wasted. From these data, it was concluded that CT scans should be used to confirm abscesses, not to search for a source of sepsis.

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