Ultrasonography for diagnosis of acute appendicitis: results of a prospective multicenter trial. Acute Abdominal Pain Study Group

World J Surg. 1999 Feb;23(2):141-6. doi: 10.1007/pl00013165.


A prospective multicenter observational trial was performed to assess the performance and clinical benefit of ultrasonography of the appendix in the routine clinical examination. Included in the study were 2280 patients with acute abdominal pain from 11 surgical departments in Germany and Austria. Ultrasonography of the appendix was performed in 870 (38%) of the patients (range 16-85%). The overall sensitivity of ultrasonography of the appendix was 55% (13-90%), the specificity 95% (range 82-100%), positive predictive value 81% (50-100%), and negative predictive value 85% (68-96%). With respect to single ultrasound scan findings, adequate sensitivity (44%) was achieved only with the target phenomen, not with the other criteria. There were no correlations between the ultrasound findings of the appendix and the diagnostic accuracy of the clinician, the negative appendectomy rate, or the perforated appendix rate. From the study it can be concluded that there is no proven clinical benefit of ultrasound scanning of the appendix in the routine clinical diagnosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Acute Disease
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis / diagnosis
  • Appendicitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Appendicitis / pathology
  • Appendicitis / surgery
  • Appendix / diagnostic imaging
  • Appendix / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation / diagnostic imaging
  • Medical History Taking
  • Physical Examination
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography