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CT May Prevent Unnecessary Appendectomies

January 28, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Gastrointestinal Imaging
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The growing use of CT scans before appendectomies seems to help lower the number of unneeded surgeries in women of childbearing age, according to a study in the February issue of Radiology.

“We found that rising utiization of preoperative CT over the past decade, along with advances in CT technology, coincided with a significant decrease in negative appendectomies among women 45 years and younger,” said Courtney A. Coursey, MD, a radiologist at Emory University in Atlanta and co-author of the study.

Diagnosis of acute appendicities isn’t always clear, and gynecological issues can sometimes make evaluation even harder—severe pain in the lower abdomen could mean appendicitis, or an ovarian cyst. Before the use of preoperative CT, doctors would sometimes remove the appendix as a precaution in inconclusive cases, leading to a negative appendectomy rate as high as 40 percent.

Evaluating surgery records of patients who had undergone urgent appendectomy between 1998 and 2007, the research team found that the percentage of patients who had preop CT rose sharply, from 18.5 percent in 1998 to 93.2 percent in 2007. For women age 45 and younger, that increase in CT use corresponded with a lower negative appendectomy rate, dropping from nearly 43 percent to just over 7 percent.

“CT is a very helpful test for women 45 years and younger based on the overall trends we observed during the 10-year period,” Coursey said.

Related Seminar: CT/MRI of the Abdomen and Pelvis

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