Managing acute uncomplicated appendicitis in frail geriatric patients: A second hit may be too much

Mohamad Chehab, Michael Ditillo, Muhammad Khurrum, Lynn Gries, Samer Asmar, Molly Douglas, Letitia Bible, Narong Kulvatunyou, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Studies have proposed the use of antibiotics only in cases of acute uncomplicated appendicitis (AUA). However, there remains a paucity of data evaluating this nonoperative approach in the vulnerable frail geriatric population. The aim of this study was to examine long-term outcomes of frail geriatric patients with AUA treated with appendectomy compared with initial nonoperative management (NOP). METHODS: We conducted a 1-year (2017) analysis of the Nationwide Readmissions Database and included all frail geriatric patients(age, ≥65 years) with a diagnosis of AUA. Frailty was assessed using the five-factor modified frailty index. Patients were stratified into those undergoing appendectomy at index admission (operative management) versus those receiving antibiotics only without operative intervention (NOP). Propensity score matching in a 1:1 ratio was performed adjusting for patient- and hospital-related factors. RESULTS: A total of 5,562 frail geriatric patients with AUA were identified from which a matched cohort of 1,320 patients in each group was obtained. Patients in the NOP and operative management were comparable in terms of age (75.5 ± 7.7 vs. 75.5 ± 7.4 years; p = 0.882) and modified frailty index (0.4 [0.4–0.6] vs. 0.4 [0.4–0.6]; p = 0.526). Failure of NOP management was reported in 18% of patients, 95% of which eventually underwent appendectomy. Over the 6-month follow-up period, patients in the NOP group had significantly higher rates of Clostridium difficile enterocolitis (3% vs. 1%; p < 0.001), greater number of overall hospitalized days (5 [3–9] vs. 4 [2–7] days; p < 0.001), and higher overall costs (US $16,000 [12,000–25,000] vs. US $11,000 [8,000–19,000]; p < 0.001). Patients undergoing appendectomy after failed NOP had significantly higher rates of complications (20% vs. 11%; p < 0.001), mortality (4% vs. 2%; p = 0.019), and appendiceal neoplasm (3% vs. 1%; p = 0.027). CONCLUSION: One in six patients failed NOP within 6 months and required appendectomy with subsequent more complications and higher mortality. Appendectomy may offer better outcomes in managing AUA in the frail geriatric population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-506
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Acute uncomplicated appendicitis
  • antibiotics
  • appendectomy
  • frailty
  • geriatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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