Resource utilization and outcomes among children risk stratified by pediatric appendicitis risk calculator at a tertiary pediatric center

Callie R. Becker, Kelly R Bergmann, Gabriela Vazquez-Benitez, Brianna M. Bretscher, Anupam B Kharbanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Appendicitis is a common pediatric condition requiring surgery. The pediatric appendicitis risk calculator (pARC) was recently developed to guide clinical care. The objective of this study is to describe resource utilization and clinical outcomes among children with appendix ultrasound (US) scans risk stratified by pARC score.

METHODS: Prospective enrolled observational cohort single-center study of children aged 5-18, who had an US for suspected appendicitis. We estimated the rate of appendicitis, rate of equivocal US scans, and resource utilization by pARC score strata. Total adjusted charges were determined for low-risk pARC patients compared to discharged emergency department (ED) patients with abdominal pain and complete blood count (CBC) obtained without advanced abdominal imaging.

RESULTS: Over the 13-month study period, 407 children were enrolled. The overall rate of appendicitis was 33.4%, and 199 (49%) were male. The observed rate of appendicitis was 3.3% in those with a pARC score of <15% and 96.8% in those with a pARC score of ≥85%. Of enrolled patients, 152 (37.3%) had a pARC score <15%. Of those with a pARC score of <15%, the negative appendectomy rate was 28.6%, and the rate of equivocal US was 49.3%. The rate of CT scans and hospitalizations was 19% and 23%, respectively. Median total charges for patients with pARC <15% with usual care were $3756. Median total charges for patients presenting to the ED with abdominal pain who had a CBC but no advanced abdominal imaging performed was $2484, indicating a potential savings of $1272 per patient.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a high rate of resource utilization among patients who are low appendicitis risk by pARC score. Outcome variation by pARC scores presents future opportunity to selectively reduce resource utilization in pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.


  • Abdominal Pain/diagnosis
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis/diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study


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