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ELHJ Teo, K Tan, SL Lam, CL Ong, CS Wong
Correspondence: E L H J Teo
Aim To evaluate the roles and effectiveness of US and CT in a clinical algorithm for the evaluation of children with suspected appendicitis.
Methods Patients with suspected appendicitis were prospectively evaluated with ultrasound (US), and in some cases with CT, after they were graded to have high, intermediate or low clinical likelihood for appendicitis. Imaging findings were made known to clinicians who then decided on a line of management. Patho-histological examination and clinical follow-up established the final diagnoses, which were correlated with the imaging findings. The effect of imaging on the management of patients was examined.
Results Overall, the sensitivity of US was 92.9%, specificity 96.9%, accuracy 96.0%, positive predictive value 89.7% and negative predictive value 97.9%. Imaging did not affect the decision to operate in 13/14 (92.9%) patients in the high likelihood subgroup. Imaging guided the clinicians to the right management pathway in 26/30 (86.7%) patients in the intermediate group. 77/82 (93.9%) of US was truly negative in the low likelihood group. CT was performed in 12 patients because of unsatisfactory US scans or incompatibility between the US and the clinical findings. CT correctly diagnosed the presence or absence of appendicitis in all 12 patients.
Conclusion US and CT are accurate modalities in the diagnosis of acute appendicitis in children. US is most useful in patients with equivocal clinical findings. US should be the first modality used to evaluate children with suspected appendicitis. CT should be reserved for cases where US is sub-optimal or where the findings are inconsistent with the clinical findings.
Keywords: acute appendicitis, ultrasound, computed tomography, children
Singapore Med J 2000; 41(8): 387-392