Emerg Radiol. 2012 Jan;19(1):27-33. doi: 10.1007/s10140-011-1002-3. Epub 2011 Dec 1.
Pooler BD, Lawrence EM, Pickhardt PJ.
Elderly adults are at increased risk for complications related to both delayed diagnosis of appendicitis and to unnecessary appendectomy. We assessed the diagnostic performance of computed tomography (CT) in a consecutive elderly cohort with clinically suspected appendicitis. CT findings and clinical outcomes were analyzed for 262 consecutive adult patients age 65 and older (mean 75.6 ± 7.5 years; range 65-94; M/F 111:151) referred for clinically suspected appendicitis at a single medical center between January 2000 and December 2009. The overall prevalence of proven acute appendicitis in this elderly cohort with clinically suspected appendicitis was 16.8% (44/262). CT sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV for acute appendicitis were 100% (44/44), 99.1% (216/218), 95.7% (44/46), and 100.0% (216/216), respectively. The negative appendectomy rate was 2.3% (1/43). The perforation rate was 40.9% (18/44). There were no false-negative and two false-positive CT interpretations. All patients with appendicitis suspected on CT were hospitalized (44/44), with an average stay of 5.7 ± 3.2 days, and 93.5% (43/46) underwent appendectomy. Overall surgical complication rate was 34.9% (15/43). Compared with younger adults over the same period, elderly patients had higher rates of perforation and surgical complications, and longer hospital stays (p < 0.003). CT is highly accurate for the evaluation of clinically suspected appendicitis in elderly patients. Prompt diagnosis is important given the higher rates perforation and surgical complications relative to younger adults.