Can patient triaging with clinical scoring systems reduce CT use in adolescents and young adults suspected of having appendicitis?

the LOCAT Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: There are ongoing efforts to reduce CT radiation exposure for the diagnosis of appendicitis. Recent guidelines recommend using clinical scoring systems to triage patients who need imaging examinations. Purpose: To determine whether patient triaging with scoring systems can reduce CT use without a loss of diagnostic accuracy in adolescents and young adults suspected of having appendicitis. Materials and Methods: This retrospective study used data from a previous multicenter randomized controlled trial conducted between December 2013 and August 2016. Five scoring systems (adult appendicitis, appendicitis inflammatory response, modified Alvarado, Broek, and Christian scores) were used to categorize patients into low-, intermediate-, or high-probability groups. CT use was simulated for only the intermediate-probability group. The primary outcomes were CT reduction rate, sensitivity, and specificity. The CT reduction rate was defined as the proportion of patients in low- and high-probability groups who would not have to undergo CT among all patients. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated in the overall diagnostic pathway using each scoring system and subsequent CT. As a secondary analysis, to maintain the diagnostic accuracy to a level of when CT was used for all patients with suspected appendicitis, new cutoff values for probability group stratification targeting 97.6% sensitivity and 94.9% specificity were applied for each of the scoring systems. Results: A total of 2888 patients (mean age ± standard deviation, 28 years ± 9; 1580 women and 1308 men) with suspected appendicitis were evaluated, of whom 1088 had and 1800 did not have appendicitis. The CT reduction rates of the five scoring systems ranged from 55.6% (1606 of 2888 patients) to 71.1% (2053 of 2888), but at the cost of sensitivity (range, 48.7% [530 of 1088] to 81.2% [883 of 1088]) and specificity (range, 79.0% [1422 of 1800] to 97.8% [1761 of 1800]). Targeting 97.6% sensitivity and 94.9% specificity, the CT reduction rates of all five scoring systems were 0% (0 of 2888). Conclusion: Using clinical scoring systems in triaging patients for selective CT use led to a considerable loss of diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-358
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

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© RSNA, 2021


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