Sonography of acute appendicitis in children: 7 years experience

H B Hahn, F U Hoepner, T Kalle, E B Macdonald, F Prantl, I M Spitzer, D R Faerber
Pediatric Radiology 1998, 28 (3): 147-51

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this prospective study was to determine the accuracy in diagnosing appendicitis in children by using high-resolution graded compression sonography.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: During a 7-year period, 3859 children (mean age 9.9 years) with clinically suspected appendicitis were evaluated by sonography with the graded compression technique. The ultrasound results were correlated with the intraoperative and histopathological findings or clinical outcome.

RESULTS: High-resolution sonography was performed in 3859 children. Of the 610 patients who underwent a laparotomy, 494 had histologically proven acute or perforated appendicitis (prevalence 13%). In these children, sensitivity, specificity and overall accuracy of sonography were 90%, 97% and 96%, respectively. The reasons for false-negative and false-positive results are discussed.

CONCLUSION: Although the use of ultrasound to diagnose acute appendicitis in children has excellent results, the decision for surgery remains a clinical one because of the continuing false-negative and false-positive results from sonography.

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