AJR. American journal of roentgenology

Journal Club: the Alvarado score as a method for reducing the number of CT studies when appendiceal ultrasound fails to visualize the appendix in adults.

PMID 25714280


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the hypothesis that Alvarado scores of 3 or lower identify adult patients who are unlikely to benefit from CT after appendiceal ultrasound fails to show the appendix and is otherwise normal. MATERIALS AND METHODS. We identified 119 consecutive adults for whom the appendix was not seen on otherwise normal appendiceal sonography performed as the first imaging study for suspected appendicitis, who subsequently underwent CT within 48 hours, and whose data permitted retrospective calculation of admission Alvarado scores. Specific benefits of CT were defined as diagnoses of appendicitis or significant alternative findings, and specific benefits were compared between patients with Alvarado scores of 3 or less and 4 or higher. Significant alternative findings on CT were findings other than appendicitis that were treated with medical or surgical therapy during the admission or that were to be addressed during follow-up care. Diagnostic reference standards were discharge diagnoses, pathologic examinations, and clinical follow-up. RESULTS. No patients (0.0%, 0/49) with Alvarado scores 3 or lower had appendicitis, compared with 17.1% (12/70) of patients with Alvarado scores 4 or higher (p = 0.001), and CT showed neither appendicitis nor significant alternative findings in 85.7% (42/49) versus 58.6% (41/70) of these patients, respectively (p = 0.002). The rates of perforated appendicitis, as well as significant alternative CT findings, did not differ significantly. CONCLUSION. Adults with Alvarado scores 3 or lower who have nonvisualized appendixes and otherwise normal appendiceal sonography are at very low risk for appendicitis or significant alternative findings and therefore are not likely to benefit from CT.