MRI vs. CT in Diagnosing Acute Appendicitis in Children

Systematic review of the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of acute appendicitis in children: comparison with computed tomography

Author: Benjamin Whitt

Author Affiliations: Saba University School of Medicine, MA, USA

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Corresponding Author: Benjamin Whitt, btwhitt22@gmail.com

Key Words: Appendicitis; Diagnostic Imaging; Sensitivity; Specificity; Children

Abstract:

Purpose

Computed tomography (CT) has emerged as the gold standard test for the evaluation of suspected appendicitis in pediatric patients. It has been shown to have excellent accuracy and to decrease negative appendectomy rates. However, CT scans expose patients to ionizing radiation, which is of especially high concern in children. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a potential alternative that could be used to evaluate children while eliminating exposure to radiation. This systematic review tests the hypothesis that the sensitivity and specificity of MRI are not inferior to that of CT in the evaluation of suspected appendicitis in children.

Methods

A search of the Medline database was conducted to identify articles that used MRI to evaluate children with suspected appendicitis. Articles that focused on pediatric subjects and reported sensitivity and specificity of MRI in these subjects were included. Data for the calculation of sensitivity, specificity, and 95% confidence intervals for each were extracted from each study included. Pooled data for sensitivity and specificity of MRI were calculated and tested for significance compared to sensitivity and specificity of CT using Fisher’s exact test.

Results

Nine studies were found to be relevant to the question posed by this systematic review and met the inclusion criteria. The pooled sensitivity and specificity of MRI for the diagnosis of appendicitis were 0.96 (95% CI: 0.94-0.98) and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.96-0.98) as opposed to values of 0.94 (95% CI: 0.92-0.97) and 0.95 (95% CI: 0.94-0.97) for CT. The difference between MRI and CT was not statistically significant for sensitivity (p=0.11) or specificity (p=0.06) in the evaluation of suspected appendicitis in children.

Conclusion

In children with suspected appendicitis, the sensitivity and specificity of MRI are comparable to those of CT in terms of sensitivity and specificity. MRI is a viable choice for imaging in these patients and limits exposure to radiation.

 

Published on date: September, 2017

DOI: 10.15404/msrj/07.2017.0001

Citation: Whitt, Benjamin. Systematic review of the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of acute appendicitis in children: comparison with computed tomography, Medical Student Research Journal (2015), 4(3), 54-58. doi:10.15404/msrj/07.2017.0001

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