Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Computer aided diagnosis of acute abdominal pain: a multicentre study.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 27 September 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:800
  1. I D Adams,
  2. M Chan,
  3. P C Clifford,
  4. W M Cooke,
  5. V Dallos,
  6. F T de Dombal,
  7. M H Edwards,
  8. D M Hancock,
  9. D J Hewett,
  10. N McIntyre


    A multicentre study of computer aided diagnosis for patients with acute abdominal pain was performed in eight centres with over 250 participating doctors and 16,737 patients. Performance in diagnosis and decision making was compared over two periods: a test period (when a small computer system was provided to aid diagnosis) and a baseline period (before the system was installed). The two periods were well matched for type of case and rate of accrual. The system proved reliable and was used in 75.1% of possible cases. User reaction was broadly favourable. During the test period improvements were noted in diagnosis, decision making, and patient outcome. Initial diagnostic accuracy rose from 45.6% to 65.3%. The negative laparotomy rate fell by almost half, as did the perforation rate among patients with appendicitis (from 23.7% to 11.5%). The bad management error rate fell from 0.9% to 0.2%, and the observed mortality fell by 22.0%. The savings made were estimated as amounting to 278 laparotomies and 8,516 bed nights during the trial period--equivalent throughout the National Health Service to annual savings in resources worth over 20m pounds and direct cost savings of over 5m pounds. Computer aided diagnosis is a useful system for improving diagnosis and encouraging better clinical practice.