Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 316–321 | Cite as

Appendiceal diameter: CT versus sonographic measurements

  • Emily S. Orscheln
  • Andrew T. TroutEmail author
Original Article



Ultrasound and CT are the dominant imaging modalities for assessment of suspected pediatric appendicitis, and the most commonly applied diagnostic criterion for both modalities is appendiceal diameter. The classically described cut-off diameter for the diagnosis of appendicitis is 6 mm when using either imaging modality.


To demonstrate the fallacy of using the same cut-off diameter for both CT and US in the diagnosis of appendicitis.

Materials and methods

We conducted a retrospective review of patients younger than 18 years who underwent both US and CT of the appendix within 24 h. The shortest transverse dimension of the appendix was measured at the level of the proximal, mid and distal appendix on US and CT images. We compared mean absolute difference in appendiceal diameter between US and CT, using the paired t-test.


We reviewed exams of 155 children (58.7% female) with a mean age of 11.3 ± 4.2 years; 38 of the children (24.5%) were diagnosed with appendicitis. The average time interval between US and CT was 7.0 ± 5.4 h. Mean appendiceal diameter measured by CT was significantly larger than that measured by US in cases without appendicitis (5.3 ± 1.0 mm vs. 4.7 ± 1.1 mm, P < 0.0001) and in cases with appendicitis (8.3 ± 2.2 mm vs. 7.0 ± 2.0 mm, P < 0.0001). Mean absolute diameter difference at any location along the appendix was 1.3–1.4 mm in normal appendices and 2 mm in cases of appendicitis.


Measured appendiceal diameter differs between US and CT by 1–2 mm, calling into question use of the same diameter cut-off (6 mm) for both modalities for the diagnosis of appendicitis.


Appendicitis Appendix Children Computed tomography Diameter Ultrasound 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of Cincinnati Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA

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