Imaging utilization in the management of appendicitis and its impact on hospital charges

Hansel J. Otero, Silvia Ondategui-Parra, Sukru Mehmet Erturk, Roberto E. Ochoa, Aldo Gonzalez-Beicos, Pablo R. Ros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The objective of this study is to assess the trends in imaging utilization in adults with diagnosis of appendicitis and the role that imaging plays in the escalating appendicitis hospital charges. Data on demographics, imaging utilization, and charges of all patients discharged after a diagnosis of appendicitis during 6 years (1999-2004) were obtained from the integrated database of a large hospital. The number of discharges from 1999 to 2004 in the institution steadily decreased. An average of 2.34 imaging studies per patient were obtained, increasing from 1.85 in 1999 to 3.07 in 2004 (p = 0.001). Computed tomography (CT) studies represented 65.9% of the total of studies obtained, while plain films and ultrasound represented 19 and 14%, respectively. The percentage of patients who underwent CT increased from 51.4 to 75.7%, with relative decreases of 12 and 54% for plain abdominal films and ultrasound, respectively. Patients older than 65 years had higher rates of imaging utilization, averaging 4.3 compared with 1.86 studies in their younger counterparts (p = 0.001). Imaging utilization rates did not significantly differ among races (p > 0.5), genders (p > 0.8), discharge services (p > 0.1), or payer groups (p > 0.5). Average hospital charges for appendicitis increased by 16.3%, while imaging charges increased as a fraction of hospital charges from 7.89 to 10.87%. Imaging utilization has increased rapidly, but trends show a slowdown that might correspond with achievement of standardization. This suggests that long-term continuous rising is unlikely. Imaging charges correlate with increased hospital charges but cannot explain or accurately predict them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Appendicitis
  • CT
  • Hospital charges
  • Imaging utilization
  • Plain abdominal films
  • US

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Imaging utilization in the management of appendicitis and its impact on hospital charges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this