PURPOSE: To identify available clinical prediction rules (CPRs) and investigate their ability to rule out appendicitis in children presenting with abdominal pain at the emergency department, and accordingly select CPRs that could be useful in a future prospective cohort study.
METHODS: A literature search was conducted to identify available CPRs. These were subsequently tested in a historical cohort from a general teaching hospital, comprising all children (< 18 years) that visited the emergency department between 2012 and 2015 with abdominal pain. Data were extracted from the electronic patient files and scores of the identified CPRs were calculated for each patient. The negative likelihood ratios were only calculated for those CPRs that could be calculated for at least 50% of patients.
RESULTS: Twelve CPRs were tested in a cohort of 291 patients, of whom 87 (29.9%) suffered from acute appendicitis. The Ohmann score, Alvarado score, modified Alvarado score, Pediatric Appendicitis score, Low-Risk Appendicitis Rule Refinement, Christian score, and Low Risk Appendicitis Rule had a negative likelihood ratio < 0.1. The Modified Alvarado Scoring System and Lintula score had a negative likelihood ratio > 0.1. Three CPRs were excluded because the score could not be calculated for at least 50% of patients.
CONCLUSION: This study identified seven CPRs that could be used in a prospective cohort study to compare their ability to rule out appendicitis in children and investigate if clinical monitoring and re-evaluation instead of performing additional investigations (i.e., ultrasound) is a safe treatment strategy in case there is low suspicion of appendicitis.