Evaluating children with abdominal pain is a common occurrence in pediatrics. Although most children with abdominal pain do not have anything serious, the occasional child will show up who may have appendicitis. When this occurs, patients are usually sent to the emergency room for further evaluation. In some cases, they might be referred directly to a surgeon.

Once the child is evaluated, four things may ensue.

  1. He may be examined and sent home—with or without lab tests.
  2. He may be admitted to the hospital for observation.
  3. He may get an abdominal ultrasound and/or CT scan to more definitively make or “rule-out” the diagnosis.
  4. He may be taken directly to the operating room.

Except for the first two scenarios, the child’s management will be delayed if he eats or drinks anything before being seen.

  • CT scans looking for appendicitis can’t be done unless a child hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for four hours before the procedure.
  • Surgeons don’t like to operate unless a person’s stomach is empty.

If the doctor sends your child to the emergency room for a possible appendicitis, do not let him eat or drink anything until he has been “cleared” by the hospital staff.