Meckel’s Scan: “Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?”

The title quote is generally attributed to Groucho Marx. YD Neugut, I Novak. J Pediatri 252; 30. Open Access! The Continued Importance of the Meckel Scan (50 Years Ago in The Journal of Pediatrics)

This brief article is a quick review of the continuing importance of the Meckel scan, 50 years after the publication: Jaros R, Schussheim A, Levy LM. Preoperative diagnosis of bleeding Meckel’s diverticulum utilizing 99m technetium pertechnetate scinti-imaging. J Pediatr 1973;82:45-9.

However, I take exception to this one line (hence this post’s title): “Now, premedication with H2 antagonists often is used to enhance tracer uptake into gastric tissue, and a Meckel scan has high sensitivity and specificity, both approaching 100%.3

On planet Earth, the test’s sensitivity does NOT approach 100%. It would be more accurate to cite several references regarding the test’s sensitivity. For example, Kwak et al, in a retrospective review of 360 children (368 scans), found a sensitivity of only 65% (J Nuclear Med 2013; 54 (supplement 2) 535. Utility of Meckel’s scan: Retrospective review of 368 cases).

My take: A Meckel’s scan is very helpful when it is abnormal due to its high specificity. However, its sensitivity is suboptimal and many children need surgery for a Meckel’s diverticulum even with a negative scan.

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