CAPS Paper| Volume 49, ISSUE 5, P782-785, May 2014

Non-operative management of early, acute appendicitis in children: Is it safe and effective?

Published:February 24, 2014DOI:



      The purpose of this study was to determine if early, acute appendicitis in children can be safely and effectively managed with antibiotics alone.


      A retrospective review was performed of children (<18 yrs) treated non-operatively (NOM) for early, acute appendicitis since May 2012. These were compared to patients treated with appendectomy between January 2011 and October 2011 (OM). Inclusion criteria included: (a) symptoms <48 h, (b) localized peritonitis, and (c) ultrasound findings consistent with early, acute appendicitis.


      Twelve patients (66% female, mean age 12.2,SD = 4.2 yrs) were treated non-operatively, while 12 (50% female, mean age 12.5,SD = 3.2 yrs) were treated operatively. Two NOM children (16.7%) required initial appendectomy. One patient developed recurrent appendicitis requiring appendectomy 7 months post-discharge. Four other NOM patients returned with symptoms but did not require admission or surgery. Two OM patients (8.3%) had hospital visits and admissions related to surgical site infections. Mean length of stay (LOS) for the first visit was 1.5 days (SD = 1.0d) (NOM) vs. 1.3 days (SD = 0.5d) (OM) (p = 0.61). Including first and subsequent admissions, mean LOS was 1.8 days (SD = 1.1d) (NOM) vs. 1.7 days (SD = 1.5d) (OM) (p = 0.97).


      Early acute appendicitis in appropriately selected children can be successfully treated non-operatively. Randomized trials with longer follow-up are required.

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