Driving over speed bumps could help doctors diagnose whether patients are suffering from acute appendicitis.
The scientists published their findings in the journal BMJ. The link between pain induced by speed bumps and appendicitis was already suspected, but this study is the first to produce evidence for this idea.
Asking patients whether the pain worsened while driving over speed bumps on the way to the hospital could help doctors in their diagnosis. It’s as good as many other ways of assessing people with suspected appendicitis, states Dr. Helen Ashdown of the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford.
Appendicitis isn’t easy to detect accurately. There have been plenty of healthy appendices removed in unnecessary operations, as well as inflamed appendices going without surgery and risking blood poisoning.
The results from the University of Oxford and Stoke Mandeville Hospital show that speed bump pain compares well to other diagnostic methods when dealing with appendicitis. It could also be more accurate in ruling out appendicitis.
A high sensitivity to pain over speed bumps in patients with acute appendicitis means that if the bumps don’t induce a jolt of pain, doctors can rule out a problem appendix. The study concludes that questioning patients about their sensitivity to speed bumps should be part of the routine assessment for patients with suspected appendicitis.
Reference: “Pain over speed bumps in diagnosis of acute appendicitis: diagnostic accuracy study” by Helen F Ashdown, Diallah Karim and Andrew Huang, 17 December 2012, BMJ.