Uncomplicated appendicitis can be treated successfully with antibiotics


Clinical question: What is the late recurrence rate for patients with uncomplicated appendicitis treated with antibiotics only?

Background: Short-term results support antibiotic treatment as alternative to surgery for uncomplicated appendicitis. Long-term outcomes have not been assessed.

Study design: Observational follow-up.

Setting: Six hospitals in Finland.

Synopsis: The APPAC trial looked at 530 patients, aged 18-60 years, with CT confirmed acute uncomplicated appendicitis, who were randomized to receive either appendectomy or antibiotics. In this follow-up report, outcomes were assessed by telephone interviews conducted 3-5 years after the initial interventions. Overall, 100 of 256 (39.1%) of the antibiotic group ultimately underwent appendectomy within 5 years. Of those, 70/100 (70%) had their recurrence within 1 year of their initial presentation.

Bottom line: Patients with uncomplicated appendicitis treated with antibiotics have a 39% cumulative 5-year recurrence rate, with most recurrences occurring within the first year.

Citation: Salminem P et al. Five-year follow-up of antibiotic therapy for uncomplicated acute appendicitis in the APPAC Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018;320(12):1259-65.

Dr. Asuen is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hospital medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.

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