The impact of intraoperative culture on treatment and outcome in children with perforated appendicitis

Evan R. Kokoska, Mark L. Silen, Thomas Tracy, Patrick A. Dillon, Donald J. Kennedy, Thomas V. Cradock, Thomas R. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: Most protocols for the operative treatment of perforated appendicitis use a routine culture. Although isolated studies suggest that routine culture may not be necessary, these recommendations generally are not based on objective outcome data. Methods: The authors reviewed the records of 308 children who underwent operative treatment for perforated appendicitis between 1988 and 1998 to determine if information gained from routine culture changes the management or improves outcome. Inclusion criteria included either gross or microscopic evidence of appendiceal perforation. Results: Mean patient age was 7.5 years, 51% were boys, and there was no mortality. The majority of children (96%) underwent culture that was positive for either aerobes (21%), anaerobes (19%), or both (57%). Antibiotics were changed in only 16% of the patients in response to culture results. The use of empiric antibiotics, as compared with modified antibiotics, was associated with a lower incidence of infectious complication, shorter fever duration, and decreased length of hospitalization. We also investigated the relationship betWeen culture isolates and antibiotic regimens with regard to outcome. The utilization of antibiotics suitable for the respective culture isolate or organism sensitivity was associated with an increased incidence of infectious complication and longer duration of both fever and length of hospitalization. Finally, the initial culture correlated poorly with subsequent intraabdominal culture (positive predictive value, 11%). Conclusion: These outcome data strongly suggest that the practice of obtaining routine cultures can be abandoned, and empiric broad spectrum antibiotic coverage directed at likely organisms is completely adequate for treatment of perforated appendicitis in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-753
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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