Utility of applying white blood cell cutoffs to non-diagnostic MRI and ultrasound studies for suspected pediatric appendicitis

Published:December 18, 2018DOI:



      Non-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound studies in pediatric patients with suspected appendicitis are often non-diagnostic. The primary objective of this investigation was to determine if combining these non-diagnostic imaging results with white blood cell (WBC) cutoffs improves their negative predictive values (NPVs).


      A retrospective chart review was conducted including patients ≤18 years old with suspected appendicitis who had MRI performed with or without a preceding ultrasound study in a pediatric emergency department. Imaging results were sorted into 2 diagnostic and 5 non-diagnostic categories. NPVs were calculated for the non-diagnostic MRI and ultrasound categories with and without combining them with WBC cutoffs of <10.0 and <7.5 × 109/L.


      Of the 612 patients with MRI studies included, 402 had ultrasound studies performed. MRI with incomplete visualization of a normal appendix without secondary signs of appendicitis had an NPV of 97.9% that changed to 98.1% and 98.2% when combined with WBC cutoffs of <10.0 and <7.5, respectively. Ultrasound studies with incomplete visualization of a normal appendix without secondary signs had an NPV of 85.3% that improved to 94.8% and 96.5% when combined with WBC cutoffs of <10.0 and <7.5, respectively.


      In pediatric patients with suspected appendicitis, MRI studies with incomplete visualization of a normal appendix without secondary signs have a high NPV that does not significantly change with the use of these WBC cutoffs. In contrast, combining WBC cutoffs with ultrasound studies with the same interpretation identifies low-risk groups.


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