Ultrasound equal to CT as first imaging option for pediatric appendicitis

Researchers at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York have determined that the use of ultrasound as the first imaging option to detect appendicitis in children yields comparable results to CT and doesn't result in increased hospital stays, according to an article in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

"As more people become aware of the risks of medical radiation, there are increasing efforts to utilize non-radiation emitting imaging techniques as a first approach to diagnosis," author Jessica Kurian, an attending radiologist at division of pediatric radiology at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore said in an announcement. "Our research shows that using ultrasound first in the evaluation of appendicitis commonly produces actionable results and should be considered more frequently as clinicians try to limit medical radiation exposure in children."

In the study, the researchers identified patients with surgically proven appendicitis in the hospital between 2005 and 2011, then evaluated and plotted annual trends during the study period for the percentage of patients who underwent ultrasound and CT, examining the correlation between complicated appendicitis and media hospital length of stays.

The researchers found that as collaboration between radiologists and clinicians in the pediatric surgery and emergency departments increased, use of ultrasound as the first imaging option increased from 33 percent at the beginning of the study period to nearly 90 percent at the end, while the use of CT as the first and sometimes the only imaging test fell from 43 percent to less than 10 percent.

"These findings support the use of ultrasound in helping to reduce radiation exposure in kids and suggest this approach could be applied in the diagnosis of other conditions to minimize the cumulative radiation dose a child is exposed to over the course of a lifetime," Kurian said.

To learn more:
- read the article in the American Journal of Roentgenology
- see the announcement

Related Articles:
CT use for children with appendicitis more prevalent in community hospitals
Study: High-radiation scans increasing in pediatric imaging
Use of CT scans slowing, though not in ERS

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