Multidetector CT (MDCT) of the abdomen and pelvis is a useful test for routine evaluation of suspected appendicitis in adults, according to the results of a recent study.

Acute appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mirror those of other illnesses. Preoperative CT has been used increasingly to diagnose suspected cases since the introduction of MDCT. In the current study, researchers reviewed the hospital records of 2,871 adults with suspected appendicitis between 2000 and 2009 to determine whether MDCT could accurately rule in or rule out the diagnosis.

Among the 675 (23..5%) patients with confirmed acute appendicitis, MDCT showed 98.5% sensitivity, 98% specificity, negative predictive value of 99.8%, and positive predictive value of 93.9% (Ann Intern Med. 2011;154:789-796). In addition, MDCT provided or suggested an alternative diagnosis in 893 (42.1%) of the 2,122 patients without appendicitis or appendectomy.

The researchers did point out that because the use of MDCT for suspected appendicitis is common, the results could not be compared with those of patients who did not have the same imaging.