Recent Trend of Using Computed Tomography to Diagnose Pediatric Appendicitis at the First Hospital Visit: A Descriptive Study Using a Medical Claims Database

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2023 Apr 1;39(4):236-241. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002930. Epub 2023 Mar 22.


Objective: We recognize that computed tomography (CT) should not be used to diagnosis pediatric appendicitis due to radiation exposure. However, few studies have recently shown a trend in its use. This study aimed to investigate the annual use of CT for the diagnosis of pediatric appendicitis at the first hospital visit.

Methods: This was a descriptive study using nationwide claims data. We extracted the data of children younger than 15 years who underwent imaging tests to diagnose acute and suspected appendicitis at the first visit between January 2008 and September 2018. We summarized the patient characteristics and the percentage of CT, ultrasonography (US), or CT/US utilization by year, age, and department.

Results: We identified 6658 children who underwent CT (2349 [35.8%]), US (53,57 [54.5%]), and CT/US (634 [9.7%]). The annual CT use dropped from 43.1% in 2012 to 29.4% in 2018. According to age group, the highest percentage of CT use in 2018 was 84.6% in preschool children, followed by adolescents (40.3%), upper-grade (26.0%), and lower-grade (15.0%) children. Data of annual CT use by department revealed that CT usage was much higher in internal and emergency medicine than in pediatrics. Furthermore, adolescents accounted for approximately 50% of CT use in internal medicine.

Conclusions: The percentage of CT use for pediatric appendicitis at the first visit declined annually. However, CT use still tended to be higher in preschool- and adolescent-aged children, or in departments other than pediatrics. Further studies are required to clarify the clinical benefits of CT use to diagnose pediatric appendicitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography