Acute Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients: An Evidence-Based Review | Podcast

Acute Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients: An Evidence-Based Review

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Special Podcast Episode - Total EM

Acute Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients: An Evidence-Based Review

Date: 9/2/2019 | Length: 24:29

Show Notes

Enjoy this free podcast, thanks to Chip Lange and our friends of Total EM

We return with our second podcast featuring EB Medicine content. Our partnership with them allows us to access their content and share it with you through the power of #FOAMed and this time we are tackling an all too common emergency: appendicitis. Specifically, we discuss the pediatric population given their most recent evidence-based review article on the same.

Many of the patients we see in acute care settings complain of abdominal pain. Often, especially at this time of year, it can be associated with vague symptoms. There may have been a fever, some nausea and/or vomiting, along with some URI symptoms. In children, this can be even more challenging to discern if this is a secondary symptom or the main problem. As we start to evaluate the patient and talk with their caregivers the story of right lower quadrant (RLQ) pain is mentioned. Does this mean it is appendicitis?

Keeping a broad differential in mind when someone mentions RLQ pain, now we need to move on to the history and physical. There are many teachings with evaluating appendicitis, but how accurate are these different assessments? The honest answer is that no single finding is enough. There are some scoring systems which can assist our decision making. Two of the most common, the Pediatric Appendicitis Score (PAS) and the Alvarado Scoring System, are shown above and can also be found at sites like MDCalc. There are even newer systems such as the Pediatric Appendicitis Risk Calculator (pARC) but it is worth noting that all of them require labs.

There are mainstays that we see across scoring systems that we should focus on: anorexia, nausea and/or vomiting, pain to the RLQ, this pain usually having migrated over time, pain with certain activities (walking, coughing, hopping, percussion, etc), and an evaluation of the CBC including a neutrophil count.

A history and physical have been performed and you order labs including a CBC, metabolic panel, CRP (optional), pregnancy test for any female of potential child bearing age, and urinalysis. What else can you do to care for this patient? They should have nothing by mouth (NPO), receive IV hydration as needed, antiemetics such as IV ondansetron (0.15 mg/kg/dose up to 8 mg every 8 hours), and pain control. Despite the dogma, their is evidence both in RCT and meta-analysis form to support treatment without impeding the diagnosis.

Now that the labs are returning, you can use the scoring method of your choice and follow the appropriate recommendations. Often, this is not a slam dunk case. Many times, imaging is recommended. In most cases this means ultrasound given its benefits in evaluation without radiation. We recently covered the use of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) in appendicitis on Podcast #161. As a quick reminder, below are the common findings.


About The Podcast

Get quick-hit summaries of hot topics in emergency medicine. EMplify summarizes evidence-based reviews in a monthly podcast. Highlights of the latest research published in EB Medicine's peer-reviewed journals educate and arm you for life in the ED.



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Publication Information

Callie Becker, MD; Anupam Kharbanda, MD, MS

Peer Reviewed By

Ran D. Goldman, MD; Kristy Williamson, MD

Publication Date

September 1, 2019

Pub Med ID: 31461613

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