MRI as First Line Imaging for Suspected Acute Appendicitis during Pregnancy: Diagnostic Accuracy and level of Inter-Radiologist Agreement

Bestoun Ahmed, Jon Williams, William Gourash, Jun Zhang, Runjia Li, Goundappa K Balasubramani, Balasubramanya Rangaswamy
Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology 2021 December 2

OBJECTIVE: Evaluation of acute appendicitis (AA) in pregnancy is supported with diagnostic imaging. Typically, ultrasound (US) is performed first, and then often followed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to continued diagnostic uncertainty. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of US as compared to MRI and to evaluate the inter-radiologist agreement amongst body Radiologists with varying levels of expertise.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a retrospective study of 364 consecutive pregnant patients with clinical suspicion of AA at a single center over a 6-year period. Sensitivity, Specificity, accuracy, positive and negative predictive values were calculated for US and MRI. Inter Radiologist agreement was determined using Cohen's Kappa analysis between original interpreting Radiologist and retrospective review by expert Radiologist.

RESULTS: Thirty-one of 364 patients (8.5%) underwent appendectomy based on preoperative diagnosis, with confirmation of acute appendicitis (AA) by pathology in 19. US was able to visualize the appendix in only 6 (1.65%), 5 of whom had appendicitis. 141 patients underwent MRI, and correctly diagnosed appendicitis in 9. No patient with a negative MRI diagnosis had AA. The sensitivity, and negative predictive value for diagnosing AA with MRI was 100%. The MRI inter-reader agreement for appendix visualization and overall accuracy were 87.9 and 98% with Cohen Kappa of 0.7 and 0.56 respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests that MRI should be considered the first line imaging modality in pregnant patients suspected of having AA. Body Radiologists with varied levels of experience in MRI readouts had substantial agreement.

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