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Appendicitis Could be Diagnosed With Speed Bumps

Update Date: Dec 18, 2012 07:29 AM EST

A new study has linked pain while travelling over speed bumps to increased likelihood of acute appendicitis, among patients coming into hospital with abdominal pain.

Even though acute appendicitis is one of the most common surgeries conducted, its clinical diagnosis can be difficult, with no specific clinical diagnostic test available for appendicitis.

Even though doctors during consultation do ask routinely about pain while travelling over speed bumps, this co-relation had no evidence.

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The new research conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and Stoke Mandeville Hospital involved 101 patients who were referred to hospital for possible appendicitis. The patients were aged between 17 and 76 and were classed as "speed bump positive" if they had a worsening of pain while travelling over speed bumps or "speed bump negative" if their pain did not worsen, or if the patient was not sure if at all their pain got better.

The researchers questioned the participants within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital.

The findings of the study revealed that out of the 64 patients who had travelled over speed bumps on their way to hospital, 54 (84 percent) were "speed bump positive".

Thirty four of the 64 patients were diagnosed with acute appendicitis, of which 33 (97 percent) had experienced worsening pain over speed bumps.

Seven other patients who were "speed bump positive" although did not have appendicitis, were diagnosed with other significant problems such as ruptured ovarian cyst or diverticulitis, according to the report.

According to the researchers, even though the increased pain while crossing over a speed bump does not necessarily guarantee a diagnosis of appendicitis, the study suggests that it should form a routine part of assessment of patients with possible appendicitis.

"It may sound odd, but asking patients whether their pain worsened going over speed bumps on their way in to hospital could help doctors in a diagnosis. It turns out to be as good as many other ways of assessing people with suspected appendicitis," Dr. Helen Ashdown of the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford said.

The study is published in the BMJ Christmas issue.

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