Surgeon-Performed Ultrasound in Diagnosing Acute Cholecystitis and Appendicitis

World J Surg. 2018 Nov;42(11):3551-3559. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4673-z.


Background: The use of ultrasound (US) outside the radiology department has increased the last decades, but large studies assessing the quality of bedside US are still lacking. This study evaluates surgeon-performed US (SPUS) and radiologist-performed US (RPUS) with respect to biliary disease and appendicitis.

Methods: Between October 2011 and November 2012, 300 adult patients, with a referral for an abdominal US, were prospectively enrolled in the study and examined by a radiologist as well as a surgeon. The surgeons had undergone a 4-week-long US education. US findings of the surgeon and of the radiologist were compared to final diagnosis, set by an independent external observer going through each patient's chart.

Results: Among 183 patients with suspected biliary disease, 74 had gallstones and 21 had acute cholecystitis. SPUS and RPUS diagnosed gallstones with a sensitivity of 87.1 versus 97.3%. Specificity was 96.0 versus 98.9%, and the accuracy 92.3 versus 98.2%. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for acute cholecystitis by SPUS and RPUS were: 60.0 versus 80.0%, 98.6 versus 97.8% and 93.9 versus 95.6%, respectively. Among 58 patients with suspected appendicitis, 15 had the disease. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for appendicitis by SPUS and RPUS were: 53.3 versus 73.3%, 89.7 versus 93.3% and 77.3 versus 86.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: SPUS is reliable in diagnosing gallstones. Diagnosing cholecystitis and appendicitis with US is more challenging for both surgeons and radiologists.

Trial registration number: The study was registered at Registration number: NCT02469935.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appendicitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cholecystitis, Acute / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Gallstones / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiologists*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surgeons*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult

Associated data