Imaging trends in suspected appendicitis—a Canadian perspective
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PURPOSE: The purpose of our study was to assess trends in the imaging of suspected appendicitis in adult patients in emergency departments of academic centers in Canada. METHODS: A questionnaire was sent to all 17 academic centers in Canada to be completed by a radiologist who works in emergency radiology. The questionnaires were sent and collected over a period of 4 months from October 2015 to February 2016. RESULTS: Sixteen centers (94%) responded to the questionnaire. Eleven respondents (73%) use IV contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) as the imaging modality of choice for all patients with suspected appendicitis. Thirteen respondents (81%) use ultrasound as the first modality of choice in imaging pregnant patients with suspected appendicitis. Eleven respondents (69%) use ultrasound (US) as the first modality of choice in patients younger than 40 years of age. Ten respondents (67%) use ultrasound as the first imaging modality in female patients younger than 40 years of age. When CT is used, 81% use non-focused CT of the abdomen and pelvis, and 44% of centers use oral contrast. Thirteen centers (81%) have ultrasound available 24 h a day/7 days a week. At 12 centers (75%), ultrasound is performed by ultrasound technologists. Four centers (40%) perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in suspected appendicitis in adult patients at the discretion of the attending radiologist. Eleven centers (69%) have MRI available 24/7. All 16 centers (100%) use unenhanced MRI. CONCLUSIONS: Various imaging modalities are available for the work-up of suspected appendicitis. Although there are North American societal guidelines and recommendations regarding the appropriateness of the multiple imaging modalities, significant heterogeneity in the first-line modalities exist, which vary depending on the patient demographics and resource availability. Imaging trends in the use of the first-line modalities should be considered in order to plan for the availability of the imaging examinations and to consider plans for an imaging algorithm to permit standardization across multiple centers. While this study examined the imaging trends specifically in Canada, there are implications to other countries seeking to streamline imaging protocols and determining appropriateness of the first-line imaging modalities.
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