COVID-19 delays appendicitis diagnosis, treatment

By staff writers

June 30, 2020 -- Quarantine and stay-at-home orders used to try to control the COVID-19 pandemic have affected whether patients have received necessary healthcare for other conditions, such as appendicitis, according to a study published June 28 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The study findings demonstrate yet another effect the pandemic has had on public health, wrote a team led by Dr. Javier Romero of Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá University Hospital in Colombia.

"The results of this study show a reduction of 61% in the total number of abdominal CT scans performed in patients with signs of appendicitis [during the pandemic period, and those] diagnosed with appendicitis by CT are presenting at later stages with greater disease severity," the group wrote.

Romero's group compared differences in the clinical presentation of acute appendicitis and CT findings related to these cases between the nonpandemic period before COVID-19 (March to May, 2019) and the acute COVID-19 pandemic period (March to May, 2020). The researchers evaluated the number of appendicitis cases diagnosed on CT and their level of severity. There were 141 cases in nonpandemic period and 55 in the pandemic period.

The group found that the proportion of acute appendicitis diagnosed on abdominal CT was higher in the acute pandemic period compared with the nonpandemic period, at 45.5% versus 29.8% (p = 0.038). Appendicitis cases were also more severe during the pandemic period, compared with the nonpandemic period, at 92% versus 57.1% (p = 0.003).

"During the acute pandemic period, fewer patients presented to the emergency room with suspected appendicitis, and those who did have appendicitis had more severe ... disease," the authors concluded.

Copyright © 2020

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