Diagnosis of appendicitis in the paediatric emergency department: an update

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2019 Jun;31(3):312-316. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000749.


Purpose of review: Concern regarding appendicitis is a common reason for presentation to the paediatric emergency department. We review recent progress in the use of biomarkers, imaging and clinical scoring systems in improving diagnostic accuracy in suspected appendicitis in children.

Recent findings: Use of ultrasound, often performed at the bedside, is becoming more widespread with a parallel reduction in computed tomography (CT) use. Protocols for image acquisition and interpretation have been shown to improve diagnostic accuracy. Novel biomarkers have been explored and clinical diagnostic algorithms refined but none have achieved the level of diagnostic accuracy required.

Summary: Appendicitis remains a clinical diagnosis. Point of care ultrasound is increasingly available and offers higher diagnostic accuracy than several routinely performed laboratory investigations. Recent publications provide support for increased use of clinician performed ultrasound, increased use of MRI, less use of CT, less emphasis on basic laboratory investigation and a renewed respect for the value of serial examination, particularly early in the course of illness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appendicitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography