To explore the variation in diagnostic testing and management for males diagnosed with three testicular conditions (testicular torsion, appendix testis torsion, epididymitis/orchitis) using a large pediatric health care database. Diagnostic testing is frequently used in evaluation of the acute scrotum; however, there is likely variability in the use of these tests in the emergency department setting.Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study of males with the diagnoses of testicular torsion, appendix testis torsion, and epididymitis/orchitis. We identified emergency department patients in the Pediatric Health Information Systems (PHIS) database from 2010 to 2015 using diagnostic and procedure codes from the International Classification of Diseases Codes 9 and 10. Frequencies of diagnoses by demographic characteristics and of procedures and diagnostic testing (ultrasound, urinalysis, urine culture and sexually transmitted infection testing) by age group were calculated. We analyzed testing trends over time.Results
We identified 17,000 males with the diagnoses of testicular torsion (21.7%), appendix testis torsion (17.9%), and epididymitis/orchitis (60.3%) from 2010 to 2015. There was substantial variation among hospitals in all categories of testing for each of the diagnoses. Overall, ultrasound utilization ranged from 33.1–100% and urinalysis testing ranged from 17.0–84.9% for all conditions. Only urine culture testing decreased over time for all three diagnoses (40.6% in 2010 to 31.5 in 2015).Conclusions
There was wide variation in the use of diagnostic testing across pediatric hospitals for males with common testicular conditions. Development of evaluation guidelines for the acute scrotum could decrease variation in testing.