Should Oral Contrast Be Omitted in Patients with Suspected Appendicitis?

Lily Saadat*, Irene Helenowski, David Mahvi, Anne Marie Boller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Acute appendicitis is one of the most common surgical emergencies. Our study evaluated patients given the diagnosis of appendicitis and reviewed their workup and clinical outcomes. We specifically focused on the use of oral contrast followed by appendectomy. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all adult patients given an ICD-9 code for appendicitis at Northwestern Memorial Hospital between January 2000 and September 2010. Complication rates, time to the operating room, and length of hospital stay were compared between patients who received a CT scan and those who did not during the hospitalization for appendicitis. Results: Average time from Emergency Department to the operating room was found to be statistically longer for patients who underwent a CT scan (10 h: 3, 1548) versus those who did not (6 h: 2, 262) (p < 0.0001). There were 19 patients who had the complication of pneumonia and 4 patients who were diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome postoperatively. Patients who underwent a CT scan and received oral contrast had a statistically higher number of both complications (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: The use of oral contrast is not necessary for an accurate diagnosis of appendicitis and may be associated with higher complication rates, longer hospital stays, and poor outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1150-1153
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis
  • Oral contrast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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