For the study, the researchers analyzed 663 patients who were examined on CT for suspected appendicitis. An appendectomy was performed on 268 of the CT-screened patients. Of these 268 patients, only eight had a negative appendectomy.
“Prior to CT, the negative appendectomy rate was 20 percent, because there was no way to be sure whether appendicitis was present or not in most patients without surgery. Because CT is very accurate in imaging the appendix and because CT is very good at finding other conditions which mimic appendicitis, the negative appendectomy rate following CT has fallen dramatically. Fewer people are having to undergo appendectomy because CT can find the normal appendix and can frequently determine what is wrong prior to surgery,” said James T. Rhea, M.D., lead author of the study at MGH and now at San Francisco General Hospital in California. The study was published in the June 2005 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
According to the study, if a patient is suspected of having appendicitis, CT can help diagnose before surgery whether appendicitis is present or whether something else other than appendicitis is causing the patient’s pain.