Computed tomography in patients with abdominal pain and diarrhoea: does the benefit outweigh the drawbacks?
Intern Med J. 2013 Oct;43(10):1141-4
Authors: Aisenberg GM, Grimes RM
The role of computed tomography (CT) in the evaluation of abdominal pain is well established. However, concern exists in regard to procedure-related radiation levels, contrast-medium toxicity and costs. We sought to determine whether the use of abdominal CT caused major changes in the management of patients who had abdominal pain and diarrhoea. We reviewed all abdominal CT examinations that were performed at our hospital from October through December 2010. We selected 574 scans that had been performed in patients who presented with or without diarrhoea. We examined the selected medical records to determine whether the CT scan changed patients' management. A scan was considered to be management changing if a decisive intervention occurred on the basis of the scan results. Among 124 scans in patients with diarrhoea and 450 scans in patients without diarrhoea, the scan results changed management in 13 of the patients with diarrhoea (11%) and in 233 of those without diarrhoea (52%) (P < 0.001). When management changed, the changes resulted from findings unrelated to diarrhoea. Despite its defined role in the assessment of abdominal pain, CT of patients that also had diarrhoea seldom caused a major change in management. The probability of CT causing such a change does not outweigh the cost, radiation risk or potential for contrast-induced nephropathy.
PMID: 24134171 [PubMed - in process]