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Emerg Med Australas. 2014 Oct;26(5):481-6. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12272. Epub 2014 Aug 6.

Management of children with possible appendicitis: a survey of emergency physicians in Australia and New Zealand.

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Emergency Department, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



To describe current practice in managing children with possible acute appendicitis in EDs in Australia and New Zealand as the basis for a clinical practice guideline (CPG).


An anonymous survey was distributed to consultant emergency physicians working at PREDICT (Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative) sites in Australia and New Zealand in April 2013. A second, site-based survey was distributed to the PREDICT representatives at each of the 13 sites.


The response rate was 100% (13/13) for the site-based survey and 82% (145/176) for the physician survey. Most respondents agreed that right lower quadrant (RLQ) tenderness (94%), anorexia (92%), migration of abdominal pain to the RLQ (86%), rebound tenderness in the RLQ (60%) and RLQ tenderness produced on coughing, hopping or percussion (63%) were valuable symptoms and signs in diagnosing appendicitis. The responses regarding nausea and vomiting and fever were less consistent. Less than 50% regarded blood tests (C-reactive protein, white cell count) as relevant for the diagnosis of appendicitis. Most physicians (61%) agreed there was a role for a validated CPG for possible appendicitis in children, although only 3/13 sites reported use of such a CPG.


This survey of senior emergency physicians across Australia and New Zealand demonstrated congruence in several clinical markers and disagreements in others in the approach to diagnosing children with possible appendicitis. Whereas emergency physicians would like a validated CPG, this survey has highlighted some critical issues. Particularly, the low regard for blood tests, integral to published diagnostic scoring systems, will be a challenge for the development and introduction of such a CPG in Australia and New Zealand.


abdominal pain; appendicitis; clinical practice guideline; paediatric appendicitis score

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