Acute abdominal pain is a common reason for emergency presentation to hospital. Despite recent medical advances in diagnostics, overall clinical decision-making in the assessment of patients with undifferentiated acute abdominal pain remains poor, with initial clinical diagnostic accuracy being 45-50%. Computer-aided decision support (CADS) systems were widely tested in this arena during the 1970s and 1980s with results that were generally favourable. Inception into routine clinical practice was hampered largely by the size and speed of the hardware. Computer systems and literacy are now vastly superior and the potential benefit of CADS deserves investigation. An extensive literature search was undertaken to find articles that directly compared the clinical diagnostic accuracy prospectively of medical staff in the diagnosis of acute abdominal pain before and after the institution of a CADS programme. Included articles underwent meta-analysis with a random-effects model. Ten studies underwent meta-analysis that demonstrated an overall mean percentage improvement in clinical diagnostic accuracy of 17.25% with the use of CADS systems. There is a role for CADS in the initial evaluation of acute abdominal pain, which very often takes place in the emergency department setting.
- abdominal pain
- acute disease
- decision making, computer-assisted
- disease management