HEADLINE: DIAGNOSING APPENDICITIS
ANCHOR LEAD: NO ONE SYMPTOM CLEARLY POINTS TO APPENDICITIS IN KIDS, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Appendicitis is a frightening condition to diagnose, since the consequences of missing the diagnosis may be death. Add to that appendicitis in children, and the stakes rise again, which may be why appendectomies are one of the most overdone operations. Now an analysis by David Bundy, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, may help.
BUNDY: We found that no individual sign or symptom was particularly helpful by itself. Combinations of signs and symptoms together were more useful than any individual signs or symptoms by themselves. A second thing we found was that some of the classic symptoms that we’ve always been told are worrisome for appendicitis are not as helpful in kids as people might think, so for example, loss of appetite and nausea is sort of a classic symptom of appendicitis and yet in children it’s a pretty weak predictor of appendicitis. :29
Correctly ruling out appendicitis may also help a child avoid unnecessary diagnostic procedures. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.