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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does Limiting Oral Contrast Decrease Emergency Department Length of Stay ?

  • Author(s): Hopkins, Christy L
  • Madsen, Troy
  • Foy, Zachary
  • Reina, Michielle
  • Barton, Erik
  • et al.

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) of a new protocol for intravenous (IV)-contrast only abdominal/pelvic computed tomography (ABCT) compared to historical controls.

Methods: This was a retrospective case-controlled study performed at a single academic medical center. Patients ≥ 18 undergoing ABCT imaging for non-traumatic abdominal pain were included in the study. We compared ED LOS between historical controls undergoing ABCT imaging with PO/IV contrast and study patients undergoing an IV-contrast-only protocol. Imaging indications were the same for both groups and included patients with clinical suspicion for appendicitis, diverticulitis, small bowel obstruction, or perforation. We identified all patients from the hospital’s electronic storehouse (imaging code, ordering department, imaging times), and we abstracted ED LOS and disposition from electronic medical records.

Results: Two hundred and eleven patients who underwent PO/IV ABCT prep were compared to 184 patients undergoing IV-contrast only ABCT prep. ED LOS was shorter for patients imaged with the IV-contrast only protocol (4:35 hrs vs. 6:39 hrs, p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Implementation of an IV-contrast only ABCT prep for select ED patients presenting for evaluation of acute abdominal pain significantly decreased ED LOS. [West J Emerg Med 2012;13(5):383-387.]

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