Original article


, 6:10

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Multidetector computed tomography in the evaluation of pediatric acute abdominal pain in the emergency department

  • Wei-Ching LinAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, China Medical University HospitalDepartment of Biomedical Imaging and Radiological Science, College of Health Care, China Medical University
  • , Chien-Heng LinAffiliated withDepartment of Biomedical Imaging and Radiological Science, College of Health Care, China Medical UniversityDivision of Pediatric Pulmonology, China Medical University Children’s Hospital Email author 


The accurate diagnosis of pediatric acute abdominal pain is one of the most challenging tasks in the emergency department (ED) due to its unclear clinical presentation and non-specific findings in physical examinations, laboratory data, and plain radiographs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of abdominal multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) performed in the ED on pediatric patients presenting with acute abdominal pain. A retrospective chart review of children aged <18 years with acute abdominal pain who visited the emergency department and underwent MDCT between September 2004 and June 2007 was conducted. Patients with a history of trauma were excluded. A total of 156 patients with acute abdominal pain (85 males and 71 females, age 1-17 years; mean age 10.9 ± 4.6 years) who underwent abdominal MDCT in the pediatric ED during this 3-year period were enrolled in the study. One hundred and eighteen patients with suspected appendicitis underwent abdominal MDCT. Sixty four (54.2%) of them had appendicitis, which was proven by histopathology. The sensitivity of abdominal MDCT for appendicitis was found to be 98.5% and the specificity was 84.9%. In this study, the other two common causes of nontraumatic abdominal emergencies were gastrointestinal tract (GI) infections and ovarian cysts. The most common etiology of abdominal pain in children that requires imaging with abdominal MDCT is appendicitis. MDCT has become a preferred and invaluable imaging modality in evaluating uncertain cases of pediatric acute abdominal pain in ED, in particular for suspected appendicitis, neoplasms, and gastrointestinal abnormalities.


Multidetector computed tomography Abdominal pain Children