NSQIP Based Predictors of False Negative and Indeterminate Ultrasounds in Adults With Appendicitis

Rex Atwood, Somer Blair, Mandy Fisk, Matthew Bradley, Cathryn Coleman, Carlos Rodriguez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: It has been well established that ultrasound (US) is the initial screening tool for children with suspected acute appendicitis. However, computed tomography (CT) has become the standard screening modality for adults presenting with abdominal pain. A recent review of National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) data revealed US is being utilized as a screening modality in adults. We aimed to assess the diagnostic performance of US in evaluating adults with acute appendicitis. Study Design: The American College of Surgeons NSQIP and NSQIP Procedure Targeted Data Files were accessed and examined for all patients in 2016 and 2017 who received an US and underwent an appendectomy. The US results were then correlated to the pathology in order to determine the diagnostic performance. Additionally, we identified predictors for indeterminate and false negative US results. Results: Our study included 3607 appendectomy patients of which 1135 (30%) had an indeterminate US, 683 (18%) had an US not consistent with appendicitis, and 1789 (49%) had an US consistent with appendicitis. Sensitivity and Specificity were 74.3% and 53.0%, respectively. Positive Predictive Value (PPV) and Negative Predictive Value (NPV) were 95.9% and 12.2%, respectively. On regression analysis, clinically relevant predictors for false negative and indeterminate studies included age, sex, and BMI. Conclusions: Ultrasound is an effective initial imaging modality for acute appendicitis in the adult population. Females, age >30 y, and elevated BMI were more likely to have indeterminate or false negative results. These patients may benefit from CT as their initial screening test. Précis: NSQIP was analyzed to determine ultrasound diagnostic performance for appendicitis and predictive factors for false negative/indeterminate results. Sensitivity/specificity were 74.3% and 53.0%. PPV/NPV were 95.9% and 12.2%. We found age >30, BMI >25, and females are more likely to have false negative/indeterminate ultrasounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Appendicitis
  • False negative
  • Indeterminate ultrasound
  • Ultrasound


Dive into the research topics of 'NSQIP Based Predictors of False Negative and Indeterminate Ultrasounds in Adults With Appendicitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this