Open Access Study protocol

Optimizing imaging in suspected appendicitis (OPTIMAP-study): A multicenter diagnostic accuracy study of MRI in patients with suspected acute appendicitis. Study Protocol

Marjolein MN Leeuwenburgh12*, Wytze Laméris12, Adrienne van Randen2, Patrick MM Bossuyt3, Marja A Boermeester1, Jaap Stoker2 and the OPTIMAP study group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Department of Radiology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3 Department of Clinical Epidemiology Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2010, 10:19  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-10-19

Published: 20 October 2010



In patients with clinically suspected appendicitis, imaging is needed to substantiate the clinical diagnosis. Imaging accuracy of ultrasonography (US) is suboptimal, while the most accurate technique (CT) is associated with cancer related deaths through exposure to ionizing radiation. MRI is a potential replacement, without associated ionizing radiation and no need for contrast medium administration. If MRI is proven to be sufficiently accurate, it could be introduced in the diagnostic pathway of patients with suspected appendicitis, increasing diagnostic accuracy and improving clinical outcomes, without the risk of radiation induced cancer or iodinated contrast medium-related drawbacks. The multicenter OPTIMAP study was designed to estimate the diagnostic accuracy of MRI in patients with suspected acute appendicitis in the general population.


Eligible for this study are consecutive patients presenting with clinically suspected appendicitis at the emergency department in six centers. All patients will undergo imaging according to the Dutch guideline for acute appendicitis: initial ultrasonography in all and subsequent CT whenever US does not confirm acute appendicitis. Then MRI is performed in all patients, but the results are not used for patient management. A final diagnosis assigned by an expert panel, based on all available information including 3-months follow-up, except MRI findings, is used as the reference standard in estimating accuracy. We will calculate the sensitivity, specificity, predictive values and inter-observer agreement of MRI, and aim to include 230 patients. Patient acceptance and total imaging costs will also be evaluated.


If MRI is found to be sufficiently accurate, it could replace CT in some or all patients. This will limit or obviate the ionizing radiation exposure associated risk of cancer induction and contrast medium induced nephropathy with CT, preventing the burden and the direct and indirect costs associated with treatment. Based on the high intrinsic contrast resolution of MRI, one might envision higher accuracy rates for MRI than for CT. If so, MRI could further decrease the number of unnecessary appendectomies and the number of missed appendicitis cases.

Trial registration