The Accuracy of Point-of-Care Ultrasound in the Diagnosis of Acute Cholecystitis

Chase J. Wehrle, Asif Talukder, Lillie Tien, Soham Parikh, Aditya Devarakonda, Steven B. Holsten, Elizabeth D. Fox, Andrew Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Acute cholecystitis (AC) affects 50-200 000 patients per year. Early surgery is the treatment of choice for AC. Therefore, timely diagnosis is important to begin proper management. Recently, emergency departments have adopted point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) for the initial evaluation of AC. The accuracy of POCUS for AC has not been well studied. Methods: Patients receiving POCUS for evaluation of AC in the emergency department at our tertiary care institution for 2 years were considered. Patients with previous biliary diagnoses were excluded. Patients were deemed to have AC from a recorded POCUS result or 2/3 of the following POCUS findings: pericholecystic fluid, gallbladder wall hyperemia, and sonographic Murphy’s sign. Formal ultrasound and final diagnosis from surgical and pathology reports were used as gold standards for comparison. Results: In total, 147 patients met inclusion criteria. POCUS had a sensitivity and specificity of.4 (95% CI:.1216-.7376) and.99 (.9483-.9982), respectively, when compared to a final diagnosis and.33 (.0749-.7007) and.94 (.8134-.9932) when compared to formal US. The modified Tokyo guidelines for suspicion of AC had a sensitivity of.2 (.0252-.5561) and specificity of.88 (.8173-.931) compared to the final diagnosis. Conclusion: Point-of-care ultrasound was not a better screening test than the modified Tokyo guidelines. We recommend a simplified screening approach for AC using clinical findings and laboratory data, followed by confirmatory formal imaging. This strategy could prevent unnecessary delays in surgical management and use of physician resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-272
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • acute cholecystitis
  • cholecystitis
  • evaluation of acute cholecystitis
  • point-of-care ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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