Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine
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Objectives: We examined the effect of a full bladder on proportions of diagnostic ultrasound (US) studies in children with suspected appendicitis. We also examined the effect of a full bladder on proportions of fully visualized ovaries on US in children with suspected appendicitis. Methods: We conducted a retrospective health record review of children aged 2-17 years presenting to a tertiary pediatric emergency department (ED) with suspected appendicitis who had an ultrasound performed. We compared proportions of diagnostic US studies in children with full and sub-optimally filled bladders. We also compared proportions of ovarian visualization in females with full and sub-optimally filled bladders. Results: 678 children were included in our final analysis. The proportion of diagnostic US studies did not vary significantly between groups with a full (132/283, 47%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 38%-56%) or sub-optimally filled bladder (205/ 395, 52%, 95% CI 47%-57%) (p = 0.17). Rates of ovarian visualization were higher in females with a full bladder (196/ 205, 96%, 95% CI 93%-99%) compared to those with a suboptimally filled bladder (180/223, 81%, 95% CI 76%-86%) (p<0.01). Conclusions: Administrators and clinical decision makers should consider removing routine bladder filling practice from current pediatric appendicitis protocols in males and in pre-pubertal females where ovarian pathology is not suspected. Selective bladder filling prior to US should be performed in females when ovarian pathology is suspected.