Nonoperative treatment of acute appendicitis in children: A feasibility study

Joseph Hartwich, Francois I. Luks, Debra Watson-Smith, Arlet G. Kurkchubasche, Christopher S. Muratore, Hale E. Wills, Thomas F. Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Purpose Nonoperative treatment of acute appendicitis appears to be feasible in adults. It is unclear whether the same is true for children. Methods Children 5-18 years with < 48 h symptoms of acute appendicitis were offered nonoperative treatment: 2 doses of piperacillin IV, then ampicillin/clavulanate × 1 week. Treatment failure (worsening on therapy) and recurrence (after completion of therapy) were noted. Patients who declined enrollment were asked to participate as controls. Cost-utility analysis was performed using Pediatric Quality of Life Scale (PedsQL®) to calculate quality-adjusted life month (QALM) for study and control patients. Results Twenty-four patients agreed to undergo nonoperative management, and 50 acted as controls. At a mean follow-up of 14 months, three of the 24 failed on therapy, and 2/21 returned with recurrent appendicitis at 43 and 52 days, respectively. Two patients elected to undergo an interval appendectomy despite absence of symptoms. Appendectomy-free rate at one year was therefore 71% (C.I. 50-87%). No patient developed perforation or other complications. Cost-utility analysis shows a 0.007-0.03 QALM increase and a $1359 savings from $4130 to $2771 per nonoperatively treated patient. Conclusion Despite occasional late recurrences, antibiotic-only treatment of early appendicitis in children is feasible, safe, cost-effective and is experienced more favorably by patients and parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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