Barriers and facilitators of CT scan reduction in the workup of pediatric appendicitis: A pediatric surgical quality collaborative qualitative study

Andrew Hu*, Azraa S. Chaudhury, Terry Fisher, Elisa Garcia, Loren Berman, Kuojen Tsao, Anne Mackow, Stephen B. Shew, Julie Johnson, Shawn Rangel, Kevin P. Lally, Mehul V. Raval

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Despite ongoing efforts to decrease ionizing radiation exposure from computed tomography (CT) use in pediatric appendicitis, high CT utilization rates are still observed across many hospitals. This study aims to identify factors influencing CT use and facilitators and barriers to quality improvement efforts. Methods: The Pediatric Surgery Quality Collaborative is a voluntary consortium of 42 children's hospitals participating in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Project - Pediatric. Hospitals were compared based on CT utilization from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with surgeons, radiologists, emergency medicine physicians, and clinical data abstractors from 7 hospitals with low CT use rates (high performers) and 6 hospitals with high CT use rates (low performers). A mixed deductive and inductive coding approach for analysis of the interview transcripts was used to develop a codebook based on the Theoretical Domains Framework and subsequently identify prominent barriers and facilitators to CT reduction. Results: Thematic saturation was achieved after 13 interviews. We identified four factors that distinguish high-performing from low-performing hospitals: (1) consistent availability of resources such as ultrasound technicians, pediatric radiologists, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); (2) presence of and adherence to protocols guiding imaging modality decision making and imaging execution; (3) culture of inter-departmental collaboration; and (4) presence of a radiation reduction champion. Conclusions: Significant barriers to reducing the use of CT in pediatric appendicitis exist. Our findings highlight that future quality improvement efforts should target resource availability, protocol adherence, collaborative culture, and radiation reduction champions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-588
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Barriers
  • Computed tomography
  • Facilitators
  • Pediatric appendicitis
  • Quality Improvement
  • Theoretical domains framework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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