Ultrasound – A Safer Alternative For Appendicitis Diagnosis

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New research showed that ultrasound scan is safer and equally effective in diagnosing appendicitis when compared to the CT scans. Appendix is a finger shaped vestigial organ found extending from the large intestine. Inflammation of appendix due to the infection causes severe abdominal pain, motions and vomiting associated with fever.  This condition is called appendicitis. Appendix is surgically removed (Appendectomy) in such cases. If left untreated, it may rupture leading to complications and can be even fatal. As the symptoms associated with appendicitis are similar to the other abdominal disorders, proper evaluation with accuracy is extremely important.

The doctors from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that both methods of screening tests for appendicitis reduce unnecessary surgeries, but the CT scan might increase the life time cancer risk in children. CT images are obtained by passing X-rays into the body to capture the pictures on the computer. Ultrasound scan is performed using high frequency sound waves to obtain an image, so much safer and less costly than CT scan.

Doctors came to this conclusion after analyzing 423 children who had appendectomies at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  The initial evaluation of 205 children was done using CT scan at general hospitals and 218 at children’s hospital using ultrasound technique. Both the techniques confirmed surgery. So the recent report suggested that ultrasound is safer though not practiced normally in general hospitals.

Even patients and providers are concerned about the unnecessary radiation exposure at an early age which is leading to an increased number of ultrasounds all over the globe. 

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