A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Protocol for the Evaluation of Pediatric Postappendectomy Abscess: A Quality Improvement Project

Alicia C. Greene, Marc M. Mankarious, Madeline Matzelle-Zywicki, Akshilkumar Patel, Lilia Reyes, Anthony Y. Tsai, Mary C. Santos, Michael Moore, Afif N. Kulaylat

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Introduction: Computed tomography (CT) scans are often used when cross-sectional imaging is required for evaluation of postappendectomy abscess, exposing children to a source of ionizing radiation. Our aim was to decrease the use of CT scans in pediatric postappendectomy patients by 50% in 12 mo and to sustain those results for 1 y. Methods: A comprehensive magnetic resonance imaging protocol was introduced in 2018 at a tertiary children's hospital within a general health system to replace CT scans in suspected pediatric postappendectomy abscess. Diagnostic and clinical outcomes were compared preprotocol (2015-2017) and postprotocol (2018-2022) implementation using standard univariate statistics. P < 0.05 was considered significant. Quality improvement methodology was used to design and implement the protocol. Results: Sixty eight pediatric postappendectomy patients received cross-sectional imaging during the study period. Overall, CT scans were used exclusively (100%, n = 27) in the preimplementation period compared to 31.7% (n = 13) of cross-sectional imaging in the postimplementation period. However, in the first year of protocol implementation, CT scan use only decreased to 78% of cross-sectional studies performed. The majority of protocol deviations (54%) also occurred in this time period. With improved education and reinforcement, CT scan utilization decreased to approximately 24% of cross-sectional studies annually. Missed abscess rate, time to diagnosis, drainage procedure type, readmission, and reoperation were similar between preimplementation and postimplementation periods. Conclusions: Implementation of a postappendectomy abscess magnetic resonance imaging protocol was associated with decreased CT utilization in the pediatric population, while maintaining comparable diagnostic evaluation and clinical outcomes. Adherence to quality improvement principles facilitated achieving goals and sustaining gains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-595
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery

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