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Ultrasound scan is a safer method for the diagnosis of appendicitis

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Ultrasound scan is a safer method for the  diagnosis of appendicitis

A new study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.. Louis, and published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that ultrasound can be a safer alternative than CT scan for appendicitis diagnosis.

Most times children with suspected appendicitis are evaluated by computer tomography, which involves irradiation. But a safer alternative in terms of diagnosis is the ultrasonography. Imaging evaluation is very important for determining the therapeutic behavior in patients with appendicitis because it is well-known that the only cure of appendicitis is surgery.

Until recently,  computer tomography was widely used for the diagnosis of appendicitis but it was observed that this method of diagnosis involves actually a significant X-ray dose which increases the risk of cancer later in life. Therefore, researchers wanted to reassess the role of CT in the diagnosis of appendicitis and to seek other imaging means less harmful.

Diagnosis of Appendicitis

Diagnosis of Appendicitis

First author Jacqueline Saito, MD, assistant professor of surgery, said the diagnosis of appendicitis is very difficult because the symptoms overlap with many other diseases or viral infections. The author also said that the doctors do not want to operate an appendix which is fine, on the other hand an inflamed appendix can lead to life-threatening complications such as peritonitis.

It should be noted that the appendix is an organ attached to the first segment of intestine which is called check. Inflammation of the appendix, that is appendicitis,  can be triggered by an infection or a  blockage.  Appendicitis occurs through a series of nonspecific signs and symptoms: vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, fever etc. Diagnosis is difficult to be confirmed only by clinical examination, so doctors resort to imaging to ensure that indeed the cause of these symptoms is the appendix . In addition, the diagnosis is even more difficult when the patient is a child.

The team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.. Louis looked at case records of 423 children who had appendectomies, that is the removal of appendix. They wanted to see which imaging was used for diagnosis of appendicitis and found that CT scan was used in first place: 85% of patients were evaluated using the this imaging method.

However, although ultrasonography is safer because it uses ultrasound, it must be done carefully and interpreted by a  specialist trained in pediatric diagnosis. “Ultimately what we’d liked to do is learn how we can reduce our use of CT imaging without compromising patient care,” Saito said.