Author: Stephanie Polites, M.D. General Surgery Resident. Mayo Clinic.
Acute appendicitis is the most common surgical emergency in children and accounts for many emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the pediatric population. Traditionally, the diagnosis was made based on history and physical exam, with use of advanced imaging such as ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) reserved for equivocal cases. Now that CT is readily available in most emergency departments, there has been a substantial increase in CT utilization. CT is more than 90% accurate in diagnosing acute appendicitis and providers hope its utilization will avoid negative appendectomies. Unfortunately there may be a long term risk of cancer associated with ionizing radiation exposure due to CT. Furthermore, there is evidence that CT utilization does not prevent negative appendectomies. [...]