Purpose: To determine the frequency of preoperative computed tomography (CT) in the evaluation of patients suspected of having appendicitis at one institution during the past 10 years and to determine whether changes in CT utilization were associated with changes in the negative appendectomy rate.
Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained, and a waiver of informed consent was granted for this HIPAA-compliant study. A surgical database search yielded medical record numbers of 925 patients (526 [ 56.9%] men and 399 [43.1%] women; mean age, 38 years (range, 18-95 years]) who underwent urgent appendectomy between January 1998 and September 2007. Patients who were younger than 18 years of age at the time of surgery were excluded. CT, pathology, and surgery reports were reviewed. By using logistic regression, changes in the proportion of patients undergoing CT and in the proportion of patients undergoing each year appendectomy in which the appendix was healthy were evaluated. Subgroup analyses based on patient age (<or= 45 years or > 45 years) and sex also were performed.
Results: Prior to urgent appendectomy, 18.5% of patients underwent preoperative CT in 1998 compared with 93.2% of patients in 2007. The negative appendectomy rate for women 45 years of age and younger decreased from 42.9% in 1998% to 7.1% in 2007. However, the timing of the decline in negative appendectomy rates for women 45 years and younger could not be proved to be associated with the increase in CT use. There was no significant trend toward a lower negative appendectomy rate for men regardless of age or for women older than 45 years of age with increased use of preoperative CT. The shift from single-detector CT to multidetector CT and the use of decreasing section thickness also correlated with a reduction in false-positive diagnoses.
Conclusion: Rising utilization of preoperative CT and advances in technology coincided with a decrease in the negative appendectomy rate for women 45 years and younger but not in men of any age or women older than 45 years.