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Ultrasound and CT in the Diagnosis of Appendicitis: Accuracy With Consideration of Indeterminate Examinations According to STARD Guidelines

Posted by Krista Whitehouse on September 3, 2020 in Abdominal
General ultrasound image of acute appendicitis
General ultrasound image of acute appendicitis

New publication by Candice Crocker, Dr. Magdi Akl, Dr. Mohamed Abdolell, Dr. Mahsa Kamali, Dr. Andreu F Costa. See full text.


OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to determine the accuracy of ultrasound (US) and CT in diagnosing appendicitis at our institution while taking into account the number of indeterminate examinations in accordance with the Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) guidelines. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS. We retrospectively evaluated 790 patients who underwent US, CT, or both for evaluation of suspected appendicitis between May 1, 2013, and April 30, 2015. Patient characteristics and US and CT examination results were recorded. The reference standard was histopathology or 3 months of medical record follow-up if surgery was not performed; 3 × 2 tables were generated, and sensitivity, specificity, overall test yield, and accuracy were calculated according to STARD guidelines. For surgical cases, time to surgery (one-way ANOVA) was compared among patients who underwent US alone, CT alone, or both US and CT. 

RESULTS. A total of 473 of 562 US examinations had indeterminate findings (overall test yield, 15.8%); sensitivity and specificity in the 89 diagnostic examinations were 98.5% and 54.2%, respectively. Thirteen of 522 CT examinations were indeterminate (overall test yield, 97.5%); sensitivity and specificity in the remaining 509 CT examinations were 98.9% and 97.2%, respectively. Taking indeterminate studies into account, the accuracy was 13.7% for US and 95.6% for CT. The negative appendectomy rates were 17.7% (11/62) for US and 3.3% (9/276) for CT (p = 0.0002). Time to surgery was longer for patients who underwent US and CT (mean ± SD, 17.7 ± 8.9 hours) than US alone (12.9 ± 6.4 hours; p = 0.002) but was not longer for patients who underwent CT alone (16.3 ± 8.4 hours; p = 0.45). 

CONCLUSION. At our institution, a large proportion of US examinations are indeterminate for appendicitis. CT is the preferred first-line imaging test for evaluating appendicitis in nonobstetric adult patients.


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