Acute Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients With Sickle Cell Disease: Lower Incidence, More Imaging, and More False-Positives

Stephanie B. Shamir, Carly Schwartz, Kerry Morrone, Benjamin Taragin, Mark C. Liszewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) experience recurrent pain crises, which may mimic appendicitis. A prior study found a significantly lower rate of appendicitis in patients with SCD compared with national averages. We investigate the incidence of appendicitis and number of imaging studies for appendicitis in pediatric patients with SCD. Methods: Using a retrospective study design from a single institution, SCD and control cohorts were created. Inclusion criteria included age 0 to 21years and at least one follow-up appointment within 24 months. Length of observation was calculated from initial presentation to either inpatient admission for appendicitis or last clinic visit. Analysis of an SCD subgroup and a control subset (n = 1,596) was used to compare the number of imaging studies. Incidence rates of appendicitis and number of appendicitis studies were determined. Z-tests, binomial enumeration exact tests, and Fischer's exact tests were used. Results: The SCD cohort included 1,064 patients between January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2014, and the control cohort included 115,109 patients without SCD between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2011. Incidence rate of appendicitis per 10,000 patient-years was significantly lower in the SCD group compared with controls (2.9 cases versus 10.7 cases per 10,000 patient-years; P =. 044). Additionally, the SCD group received significantly more ultrasounds (148 versus 60 per 10,000 patient-years; P <. 0001) and CTs (94 versus 27 per 10,000 patient-years; P <. 0001) for appendicitis, which remained significant when controlling for race. Patients with SCD also received more false-positive scans. Discussion: Patients with SCD had a significantly lower incidence of appendicitis than controls, yet had a higher number of imaging tests performed for appendicitis. Appendicitis should be viewed as a less common cause of acute abdominal pain in SCD. This consideration should help guide imaging strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Appendicitis
  • diagnostic accuracy
  • incidence rates
  • sickle cell disease
  • utilization rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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