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16.06.2017 | Original Scientific Report | Ausgabe 11/2017

World Journal of Surgery 11/2017

Acute Appendicitis: Still a Surgical Disease? Results from a Propensity Score-Based Outcome Analysis of Conservative Versus Surgical Management from a Prospective Database

World Journal of Surgery > Ausgabe 11/2017
Niccolò Allievi, Asaf Harbi, Marco Ceresoli, Giulia Montori, Elia Poiasina, Federico Coccolini, Michele Pisano, Luca Ansaloni
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00268-017-4094-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The aim of the present study was to compare the outcomes of conservative versus surgical treatment for acute appendicitis.


Although acute appendicitis is a common disease, great debate exists regarding the appropriate management of patients. Conservative treatment has shown positive results in several RCTs, eliciting questions about indications to surgery, therapeutic appropriateness and ethical conduct.


Data were prospectively collected; a Propensity Score-based matching method was implemented in order to reduce bias arising from characteristics of the patients; a proportion of patients (69 in total) were excluded to obtain two comparable groups of study (1a). Main outcomes of the study were: failure rate, in-hospital length of stay (at first admission and cumulative), post-discharge absence from work. Within the medical group, failure was defined as the necessity for appendectomy after conservative treatment, while it was identified with complications and negative appendectomy within the surgical group (Failure 1). In parallel, an additional definition of failure was proposed (Failure 2) and excluded negative appendectomy from the reasons for failure within the surgical group (5b).


The failure rate for the conservative treatment resulted to be inferior, as compared to the surgical treatment (16.5 vs. 28.4%, OR 0.523 p = 0.019), considering negative appendectomy as a reason for failure. When excluding negative appendectomy from the definition of failure, medical and surgical treatment appeared to perform equally (failure rate: 16.5 vs. 18.3%, OR 1.014 p = 0.965). Patients managed conservatively showed to have a shorter length of stay at first admission than the patients who underwent appendectomy (3.11 vs. 4.11 days, β = −0.628 days, p < 0.0001). A lower number of lost work days after discharge resulted from a conservative approach (6 vs. 14.64 days, β = −8.7 days, p < 0.0001).


Considering each outcome as part of a wide-angle analysis, the conservative management of acute appendicitis resulted to be safe and effective in the selected group of patients. In terms of failure rate, the medical treatment resulted to perform as effectively as surgical treatment, if negative appendectomy was excluded from failure, or better, when negative appendectomy was included in the definition of failure. A diminished length of stay during the first admission and a reduced number of lost work days were evident with a conservative approach. The comparison between medical and surgical treatment for acute appendicitis requires a change in perspective, from a spare ‘effectiveness analysis’ to a more thorough ‘appropriateness analysis’: in the present study, the conservative treatment showed to address the clinical requirements in terms of therapeutic appropriateness. Although acute appendicitis is considered a ‘surgical disease’, increasing evidence supports the effectiveness and safety of a conservative approach for selected groups of patients.

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