Appendicitis: The impact of computed tomography imaging on negative appendectomy and perforation rates

Emil J. Balthazar, Neil M. Rofsky, Ryan Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purposes of this study were to investigate the use of computed tomography (CT) imaging in patients with suspected acute appendicitis and to evaluate the impact of CT on negative appendectomy and perforation rates. In patients clinically diagnosed of acute appendicitis the reported overall negative appendectomy rate is about 15-20%; 10% in men and 25-45% in women of childbearing age. This is associated with a perforation rate of 21-23%. Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of 146 consecutive patients presenting with clinical symptoms suspicious of appendicitis over a 2-yr period in whom CT examinations were performed before therapy was instituted. The overall negative appendectomy and perforation rates were calculated for the entire group, as well as for the 54 women aged 15-50 yr in the childbearing cohort. Results: The negative appendectomy rate was 4% in 122 patients operated on and the perforation rate was 22%. Among 36 women 15- 50 yr of age operated on, the negative appendectomy rate was 8.3% and the perforation rate was 19%. Surgery was avoided in 24 patients, 18 of whom were women of childbearing age. Conclusions: The judicious use of CT imaging in patients with equivocal clinical presentation suspected of having appendicitis led to a significant improvement in the preoperative diagnosis. It resulted in a substantial decrease in the negative appendectomy rate compared to previously published reports, without incurring an increase in the perforation rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-771
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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