MP035: Point-of-care-ultrasound to diagnose appendicitis in a Canadian emergency department Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Introduction: Appendicitis is a common surgical condition that frequently requires patients to undergo diagnostic imaging. Abdominal computed tomography is the gold standard imaging technique for the diagnosis of appendicitis, but exposes patients to radiation. Ultrasound offers an alternate radiation-free imaging modality for appendicitis. However, the availability of ultrasound during off-hours is limited in many Emergency departments (EDs). Clinician performed point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is increasingly used by emergency physicians as a bedside tool to evaluate suspected appendicitis. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the test characteristics of emergency physician performed POCUS to diagnose appendicitis in a Canadian ED. Methods: A pragmatic, retrospective chart review was performed on all patients for whom a POCUS was performed to diagnose appendicitis at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton in Ontario from December 1, 2010 to December 4, 2015. All POCUS scans were performed by physicians with Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credentials or resident physicians undergoing POCUS fellowship training. All scans were over-read by RDMS credentialed faculty and subject to a rigorous quality assurance (QA) process. POCUS findings and patient outcomes were reported. Results: A total of 90 patients were included in the study. 24 patients were diagnosed with appendicitis on POCUS. Ultimately, 18 were diagnosed with appendicitis through formal imaging, laparoscopy, and pathology. The sensitivity and specificity for POCUS to diagnose appendicitis was found to be 69.2% (95% CI, 48.1%-84.9%) and 90.6% (95% CI, 80.0%-96.1%) respectively. Conclusion: Bedside ultrasound is a reliable imaging modality for ruling in acute appendicitis. In cases where POCUS is negative or indeterminate for appendicitis, further imaging should be obtained as clinical suspicion warrants. The use of POCUS has the potential to reduce patient exposure to ionizing radiation and decrease the costs of obtaining CT scans, while hastening the process of achieving definitive management through earlier surgical consultation.

publication date

  • May 2016