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  • February 2008

    Effect of CT on False Positive Diagnosis of Appendicitis and Perforation

    New England Journal of Medicine | Steven S. Raman et al.


    Effect of CT on False Positive Diagnosis of Appendicitis and Perforation


    Steven S. Raman, M.D.; Ferdnand C. Osuagwu, M.D.; Barbara Kadell, M.D.; Henry Cryer, M.D.; James Sayre, Ph.D.; David S.K. Lu,M.D.


    New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 358, No. 9, February 28, 2008


    With 250,000 surgeries per year, acute appendicitis is the most common indication for emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. It’s also one of the most difficult to diagnose. Historically 15-25% of appendectomy patients have undergone unnecessary surgery, with that percentage reaching as high as 45% for women. A study at the School of Medicine at UCLA measured changes in rates of false positive diagnosis and the use of CT scanning in 1,081 patients who underwent surgery for suspected appendicitis over a ten year period.

    The UCLA study found an 88% decrease in the rate of false positives among adults undergoing surgery for appendicitis, dropping from 24% in 1996 down to 3% in 2006. The study also identified a significant relationship between the decrease in unnecessary surgeries and the increase in the use of CT scanning, as abdominal CT scans were used in 20% of cases in 1996, compared to 85% in 2006.

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