Antibiotics for appendicitis! Not so fast

Mazhar Khalil, Peter M Rhee, Tahereh Orouji Jokar, Narong Kuvatunyou, Terence S Okeeffe, Andrew - Tang, Ahmed Hassan, Lynn Gries, Rifat - Latifi, Bellal A Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Emerging literature in acute appendicitis favors the nonoperative management of acute appendicitis. However, the actual use of this practice on a national level is not assessed. The aim of this study was to assess the changing trends in nonoperative management of acute appendicitis and its effects on patient outcomes. Methods: We did an 8-year (2004-2011) retrospective analysis of the National Inpatient Sample database. We included all inpatients with the diagnosis of acute appendicitis. Patients with a diagnosis of appendiceal abscess or patients who underwent surgery for any other pathology were excluded from the analysis. Jonckheere-Terpstra trend analysis was performed for operative versus nonoperative management and outcomes. Results: A total of 436,400 cases of acute appendicitis were identified. Mean age of the population was 33 ± 19.5 years, and 54.5% were male. There was no significant change in the number of acute appendicitis diagnosed over the study period (p = 0.2). During the study period, nonoperative management of acute appendicitis increased significantly from 4.5% in 2004 to 6% in 2011 (p < 0.001). When compared with operatively managed patients, conservatively managed patients had a significantly longer hospital length of stay (3 [2-6] vs. 2 [1-3] days, p < 0.001), and in-hospital complications (27.8% vs. 7%, p < 0.001). On comparison of open and laparoscopic appendectomy, both had shorter hospital length of stay and rate of in-hospital complications. Overall hospital charges were lower in patients managed conservatively (15,441 [8,070-31,688] vs. 20,062 [13,672-29,928] USD, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Nonoperative management of appendicitis has increased over time; however, outcomes of nonoperative management did not improve over the study period. A more in-depth analysis of patient and system demographics may reveal this disparity in trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-932
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Acute appendicitis
  • antibiotics
  • appendectomy
  • conservative management
  • nonoperative management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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