Context: Limited computed tomography with rectal contrast (CTRC) has been shown to be 98% accurate in the diagnosis of appendicitis in the adult population, but data are lacking regarding the accuracy and effectiveness of this technique in diagnosing pediatric appendicitis. Objective: To determine the diagnostic value of a protocol involving ultrasonography and CTRC in the diagnosis and management of appendicitis in children and adolescents. Design, Setting, and Participants: Prospective cohort study of 139 children and adolescents aged 3 to 21 years (2 patients were older than 18 years) who had equivocal clinical findings for acute appendicitis and who presented to the emergency department of a large, urban, pediatric teaching hospital between July and December 1998. Interventions: Children were first evaluated with pelvic ultrasonography. If the result was definitive for appendicitis, laparotomy was performed; if ultrasonography was negative or inconclusive, CTRC was obtained. Patients who did not undergo laparotomy had telephone follow-up at 2 weeks and medical records of al patients were reviewed 4 to 6 months after study completion. Main Outcome Measures: Specificity, sensitivity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of tests based on final diagnoses; surgeons' estimated likelihood of appendicitis on a scale of 1 to 10 for each case and their case management plans before imaging, after ultrasonography, and after CTRC. Results: A total of 108 patients underwent both ultrasonography and CTRC examinations. The protocol had a sensitivity of 94%, specificity of 94%, positive predictive value of 90%, negative predictive value of 97%, and accuracy of 94%. A normal appendix was identified by ultrasonography in 2 (2.4%) of 83 patients without appendicitis and by CTRC in 62 (84%) of 74 patients. A negative ultrasonography result did not change the surgeons' clinical confidence level in excluding appendicitis (P = .06), while a negative CTRC result did have a significant effect (P<.001). Positive results obtained for either ultrasonography or CTRC significantly affected surgeons' estimated likelihood of appendicitis (P=.001 and P<.001, respectively). Ultrasonography resulted in a beneficial change in patient management in 26 (18.7%) of 139 children while CTRC correctly changed management in 79 (73.1%) of 108. Conclusions: These data show that CTRC following a negative or indeterminate ultrasonography result is highly accurate in the diagnosis of appendicitis in children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas