The use of antibiotics vs. appendectomies for uncomplicated acute appendicitis
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BACKRGOUND: Appendicitis is the condition in which the appendix, a finger-length appendage located in the right lower quadrant (RLQ) of the abdomen, becomes inflamed due to a bacterial infection. Every year, nearly 300,000 cases of appendicitis are diagnosed at hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. In the U.S., the current standard of care for appendicitis is an appendectomy; surgery that completely removes the appendix from the body. Numerous studies in Europe, however, have demonstrated that antibiotics can be an equally safe and effective treatment for treating appendicitis. This clinical research study hypothesizes that antibiotics for intra-abdominal infections like appendicitis can be an effective treatment. METHODS: Patients that met eligibility were randomized to either antibiotic treatment or appendectomy treatment. If patients decided not to randomize, they had the option to join the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) cohort in which they could choose the treatment that they received. Patients in both cohorts were followed along via EMRs for the span of two years after initial treatment. Individuals who consented to the randomization group also received follow-up phone calls at specified points in time. RESULTS: A total of 374 patients were approached between March 2016 – March 2018. 100 patients consented to the randomization group and 118 patients elected into the EMR group. In the randomization group, 49 patients were randomized to appendectomy and 51 were randomized to antibiotic treatment. 21 patients in the antibiotic treatment group (41.1%) returned back to the hospital within two years of their index visit for an appendectomy. From the EMR cohort, 109 patients chose to receive appendectomies, and 9 patients received antibiotics. CONCLUSION: Treatment with antibiotics can serve as an alternative to surgery. However, due to the recurrence rate of 41% after two years, antibiotics should only be used as a means to delay permanent treatment. If a patient’s current situation is not immediately life-threatening, they should be granted the option to decide whether they would prefer to take antibiotics or elect into surgery.