National Imaging Trends of Recurrent Pediatric Urolithiasis

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The aim of this study was to examine computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound (US) utilization trends in incident and prevalent pediatric emergency department (ED) urolithiasis patients before and after imaging guideline release.


We reviewed imaging modalities for children with 2 or more ED encounters between January 1, 2006, and September 1, 2013, for urolithiasis using the Pediatric Health Information System database. Z scores compared the proportion of patient encounters receiving CT and US before (January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2010) and after (January 1, 2011, to September 1, 2013) the release of imaging guidelines. McNemar test for paired proportions compared the percentage of US and CT use between initial versus subsequent visits. Piecewise logistic regression was used to determine the probability of US use and CT use over time before and after the implementation of imaging guidance.


Analysis was completed on 2041 patients with 4930 unique encounters for urolithiasis. During 1758 encounters (35.7%), CT was performed initially. Ultrasound was performed 1585 times (32.2%). Fourteen percent fewer CT procedures were performed during first urolithiasis visits after guideline release (P < 0.01), whereas US use increased by 15% (P < 0.01). Fewer CT procedures were performed at later visits compared with the first (P < 0.05), and US was used more during second or later visits than the first (P < 0.05).


Medical providers at large academic pediatric EDs have decreased use of CT and increased use of US over the study time frame to diagnose urolithiasis and are now similar during initial visits (US 36.4% vs CT 36.2%, P = 0.94). Physicians are still more likely to use US as the initial urolithiasis imaging modality during second and later encounters.

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