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Post-discharge antibiotics do not prevent intra-abdominal abscesses after appendectomy in children

      Highlights

      • In a retrospective, single-institution study, patients with perforated appendicitis were evaluated for post-discharge antibiotic efficacy in reducing deep-space infections.
      • We found no difference in ED visits, readmissions, or organ-space infections between the two groups.
      • Although the numbers were small, the study also raised questions as to whether patients with a known postoperative abscess benefited from additional oral antibiotics after discharge.

      Abstract

      Aim of the study

      Perforated appendicitis is common in children, often associated with long hospital stays and high risk of complications. There has been much discussion regarding whether antibiotics prescribed after discharge might reduce the risk of intra-abdominal abscess. This study aims to evaluate whether giving post-discharge antibiotics after appendectomy for perforated appendicitis reduces the risk of abscess.

      Method

      After obtaining IRB approval, we reviewed the records of 363 patients who underwent appendectomy for perforated appendicitis at our tertiary pediatric institution from July 2015 to December 2021. Based on surgeon's preference, patients comprised two groups: those discharged with antibiotics (n = 86) or without antibiotics (n = 277). We compared post-discharge ED visits, 30-day readmissions, and SSI, analyzed with population proportion Z-tests with significance levels of 0.05.

      Results

      Post-discharge organ-space infections occurred in 4/86 (4.7%) of those with antibiotics and 9/277 (3.2%) of those without (P = 0.54). Post-discharge ED visits occurred in 10/86 (11.6%) for those with antibiotics and 23/277 (8.3%) for those without (P = 0.35). Thirty-day readmissions occurred in 6/86 (7.0%) for those with antibiotics and 10/277 (3.6%) for those without (P = 0.18). Superficial and deep SSI occurred in 0/86 (0%) for those with antibiotics and 5/277 (1.8%) for those without (P = 0.21).

      Conclusion

      In children who underwent appendectomy for perforated appendicitis, antibiotics prescribed after discharge did not reduce the incidence of intra-abdominal abscess, ED visits, or SSI. Given appropriate clinical judgment, it is safe to discharge patients with perforated appendicitis home without antibiotics.

      Level of evidence

      Level III treatment study: retrospective comparative study

      Keywords

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