Intra-Appndiceal air at CT: Is it a useful or a confusing sign for the diagnosis of acute appendicitis?

Hye Suk Hong, Hyun Suk Cho, Ji Young Woo, Yul Lee, Ik Yang, Ji Young Hwang, Han Myun Kim, Jeong Won Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the significance of intra-appendiceal air at CT for the evaluation of appendicitis. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 458 patients (216 men, 242 women; age range, 18–91 years) who underwent CT for suspected appendicitis. Two independent readers reviewed the CT. Prevalence, amount, and appearance of intra-appendiceal air were assessed and compared between the patients with and without appendicitis. Performance of CT diagnosis was evaluated in two reading strategies: once ignoring appendiceal air (strategy 1), and the other time considering presence of appendiceal air as indicative of no appendicitis in otherwise indeterminate cases (strategy 2), using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Results: Of the 458 patients, 102 had confirmed appendicitis. The prevalence of intra-appendiceal air was significantly different between patients with (13.2%) and without (79.8%) appendicitis (p < 0.001). The amount of appendiceal air was significantly lesser in patients having appendicitis as compared with the normal group, for both reader 1 (p = 0.011) and reader 2 (p = 0.002). Stool-like appearance and air-fluid levels were more common in the appendicitis group than in the normal appendix for both readers (p < 0.05). Areas under the ROC curves were not significantly different between strategies 1 and 2 in reader 1 (0.971 vs. 0.985, respectively; p = 0.056), but showed a small difference in reader 2 (0.969 vs. 0.986, respectively; p = 0.042). Conclusion: Although significant differences were seen in the prevalence, amount, and appearance of intra-appendiceal air between patients with and without appendicitis, it has a limited incremental value for the diagnosis of acute appendicitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalKorean Journal of Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Korean Society of Radiology.


  • Acute appendicitis
  • CT diagnosis
  • Intra-appendiceal air


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