Ultrasonography by emergency physicians in patients with suspected cholecystitis

C L Rosen, D F Brown, Y Chang, C Moore, N J Averill, L J Arkoff, C J McCabe, R E Wolfe
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2001, 19 (1): 32-6
This article investigates the use of bedside abdominal ultrasonography (BAU) performed by emergency physicians (EPs) to screen patients for cholelithiasis and cholecystitis. In this prospective study EPs performed BAU on 116 patients. Agreement between BAU and formal abdominal ultrasound (FUS) performed in the radiology department for detecting cholelithiasis and cholecystitis was determined using Kappa statistics. Test characteristics of BAU for detecting cholelithiasis and acute cholecystitis were calculated. Agreement between BAU and FUS was 0.71 for cholelithiasis and 0.46 for acute cholecystitis. Test characteristics of BAU for cholelithiasis were sensitivity 92%, specificity 78%, positive predictive value (PPV) 86%, negative predictive value (NPV) 88%. Test characteristics of BAU for acute cholecystitis compared with clinical follow-up were sensitivity 91%, specificity 66%, PPV 70%, NPV 90%. BAU may be used to exclude cholelithiasis and is sensitive for cholecystitis. However, when EPs with limited experience identify cholecystitis a confirmatory test is warranted before cholecystectomy.

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