Radiating Hope: Radiology Department Blog


Appendicitis: we have another tool to help us!

Post Date: April 12, 2021
Appendicitis: we have another tool to help us!

Your child has belly pain, and we are worried that the appendix is angry (which results in appendicitis). The appendix is the little tube of intestine in the right lower belly. Wellit is usually there, and usually we can see it using our ultrasound, but sometimes we are unable to find it on ultrasound, and that is totally okay! The appendix can be hidden from us due to a variety of reasons, including being in a different place (like lower in the pelvis, behind the colon, or even in the upper part of the belly). Frequently, there can also be intestinal gas that is blocking our view of the appendix on ultrasound 

What happens next from an imaging standpoint? Depending on how ill your child is, another type of imaging study may be ordered to help us evaluate for appendicitis. In the past, it would include a CT scan with intravenous (IV) contrast, which is an imaging “dye” to help us better see the appendix and other organs in the belly. More recently, our Radiology Department at Cincinnati Children’s has started using an additional imaging tool to evaluate for appendicitis: the MRI scan. Some advantages of the MRI scan over the CT scan include no radiation and (typically) no pokes or “ouchies” for IV access. We are excited to add MRI to our toolbox, along with ultrasound and CT (which may still be used) to help us assess your child’s belly pain! 

MRI of a normal appendix -pink arrow- in the upper right belly -no appendicitis
MRI of a normal appendix (pink arrow) in the upper right belly (no appendicitis)

MRI of an angry (inflamed), dilated appendix -pink arrows- with 2 stones
MRI of an angry (inflamed), dilated appendix (pink arrows) with 2 “stones” (appendicoliths) in the appendix (white arrows), resulting in appendicitis. There is also a lot of inflammation surrounding the appendix.

MRI of an angry -inflamed- dilated appendix
MRI of an angry (inflamed), dilated appendix (pink arrow) in the pelvis with surrounding inflammation (appendicitis)


Dr. Viet Le, author; Glenn Miñano, BFA, editor; Meredith Towbin, copy editor

Images contributed by: Jonathan Dillman, MD 

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About the author: Glenn Miñano

Glenn Miñano is a media specialist in the Department of Radiology, providing graphic design, photography, printing, video services, and administration of the department’s online properties. His works have been published in several medical articles, such as the American Journal of Radiology and the American Institute of Ultrasound. He has been providing these services to the Radiology Department since 1996.