The acute abdomen is the main term for an at first unclear emergency situation of the abdominal cavity. The acute abdomen belongs to the three most important reasons for the admission of patients into the emergency room. Further, this illness ranks 40% of all consultations in the ambulant care sector. The acute abdomen requires an early and direct diagnosis because of its potential of having a life threatening differential diagnosis.
This HTA report aimed to assess the ultrasound diagnosis of the acute abdomen considering children and adults. This will be done from a medical and economic perspective. The differential diagnosis respectively the cause of the acute abdomen binds high direct treatment costs, especially in the stationary sector. Ultrasound diagnosis is a procedure that plays a big part in the differential diagnosis process and it is widely used in practise. Other research methods of diagnosing acute abdominal illness are: clinical examinations with inspection and palpation, surgical exploration and laparocopy as well as computer tomography and x-ray examination.
The main objective of this HTA report is to assess what significance sonography should have within the examination strategy of the acute abdomen from the medical and economical view. Second, this HTA report will evaluate under which circumstances the ultrasonographic diagnosis of the acute abdomen, considering medical and economical quality classifications, is the alternative of choice to comparable diagnostic measures.
The target population this HTA report is aimed at are children and adults with acute abdomen or embedded differential diagnosis. A systematic literature search was conducted covering all relevant medical and HTA-databases. Furthermore, handsearch was conducted inside of the known data bases of HTA-institutions as well as from medical and economical journals. The following databases were searched in cooperation with DIMDI to identify relevant literature: Biosis-Previews (BA93), Biotechnobase (ET80), Cab-Health (AZ72), Elsevier Biobase (EB94), EMBASE (EM74), Embase Alert (EA08), Ethmed (ED93), Euroethics (EU93), Gerolit (GE79), Heclinet (HN69), IHTA ( HT83), IPA (IA70), MEDLINE (ME90, Medline Alert (MEOA) and SciSearch (IS74).
The search parameters were orientated by the embedded differential diagnosis’s as well as diagnostic measures considering the acute abdomen. The bibliographic search covered the period from 1990 to 2003. The relevant languages are English, German in connection to French.
The evaluation of the information has been graduated. It must be clear that the abstract follows the topic of the acute abdomen. The as such identified literature will be structured by its methodological quality and relevance. This will be analysed and later valued after it is clear that the minimum requirements are met.
The identified and assessed primary studies, reviews and metaanalytic studies demonstrated the medical effectiveness as well as the economical efficiency of the sonographical diagnosis for individual questions or indications. The evaluated papers of the target population ‘children’ demonstrated that sonography resp. ultrasound as the basic examination is recommended for children with acute abdominal pain.
The identified studies have not used an extensive setting of the ultrasound diagnosis of the acute abdomen. Instead they focus only on small sections, orientated on certain indications. Blinded medical studies have not been identified. Also, there is no health-economics study that evaluated the diagnostic measures by comparing all available technologies. Altogether, the identified and assessed publications show that sonography is an alternative of choice considering particular questions in comparison to other diagnostic measures of analyzing the acute abdomen. A general deflected dominance from the sonography facing the computer tomography for instance can not be seen as the result of this structured review of the published literature.
During a structured examination strategy, e.g. guidelines, sonography of children has become the diagnostic method of choice. Taking up sonography as a primary diagnostic evaluation into the guidelines of the analysis of the considered literature is recommended. The usage of already existing ultrasound systems is also recommended. Seeing that existing publications of this subject are scarce, it is not possible to prognose the economical effects of an obligatory primary sonographical diagnostic.