What is the role of MRI in the diagnosis of appendicitis?

Updated: Jul 23, 2018
  • Author: Sandy Craig, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Traditionally, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has played a relatively limited role in the evaluation of appendicitis because of its high cost, long scan times, and limited availability. However, the lack of ionizing radiation makes it an attractive modality in pregnant patients. In fact, Cobben et al showed that MRI is far superior to transabdominal ultrasonography in evaluating pregnant patients with suspected appendicitis. [52]  Moreover, the sensitivity and specificity of MRI for appendicitis appears to be similar to those of computed tomography (CT) scanning. [53]

Nonetheless, when evaluating pregnant patients with suspected appendicitis, graded compression ultrasonography should be the imaging test of choice. If ultrasonography demonstrates an inflamed appendix, the patient should undergo appendectomy. If graded compression ultrasonography is nondiagnostic, the patient should undergo MRI of the abdomen and pelvis.

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