Do we need imaging to diagnose appendicitis in children?

Antonio Di Cesare, Filippo Parolini, Anna Morandi, Ernesto Leva, Maurizio Torricelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To evaluate the role of clinical assessment with selective use of imaging studies in the management of suspected acute appendicitis in children. Patients and Methods: Medical records of children referred to Emergency Room in 2010 for suspected appendicitis were retrospectively reviewed. Diagnostic investigations divided by age and sex were related to pathological findings. Negative appendectomy and complication rates were calculated. Results: 923 children needed surgical assessment : i0 n 75.7% of them surgical indication was excluded and 24.3% were admitted to surgical ward for observation. Appendectomy was eventually performed in 137 patients (61.9%), 82.4% of them without any preoperative imaging while 17.6% underwent selective studies, mainly abdominal ultrasonography (14.6%). Imaging was requested twice as frequently in not operated admitted children (39.3%) than in the operated ones (17.5%, P <0.001). Overall complicated appendicitis rate (peritonitis and abscess) resulted 26.4% and negative appendectomy rate 8.8%. Females older than 10 years presented histologically not-confirmed appendicitis in 22.2% of cases, while the younger ones presented more frequently complicated appendicitis (29.3%). Conclusions: Clinical assessment is the key to diagnose appendicitis. Nevertheless, in girls older than 10 years, selected use of imaging should be implemented to avoid unnecessary appendectomies. Imaging of choice in equivocal cases should be ultrasonography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalAfrican Journal of Paediatric Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Appendicitis
  • children
  • computed tomography
  • negative appendectomy rate
  • ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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