Antibiotics or Surgery, what’s Right for Appendicitis?


The appendix is the small, pouch-like organ at one end of the large intestine, which does not perform any important task in the human body. However, this small pouch can cause immense pain, nausea, and fever if it gets infected. This painful, infected appendix condition is known as appendicitis.

When appendicitis is not treated in a timely manner, the infected appendix can rupture and spread the bacteria, resulting in uncontrollable infection in the bloodstream. If you want to know more about the common causes and symptoms of appendicitis, review this link: Appendicitis.

Appendicitis is one of the commonest surgeries in children, which brings about 70,000 young individuals to the hospital for open and laparoscopic appendectomy every year.

The latest medical research conducted in UK seems to suggest that appendectomy is no longer necessary for treating simple cases of appendicitis. The simple cases of appendicitis include appendicitis without abscess, rupture, or peritonitis. A 2012 MBJ study proved that 63% of patients with antibiotics-only treatment did not require additional treatment for a year. Compared to surgery, antibiotic-only treatment is more economical and less complicated.

Appendectomy surgery for appendicitis
Appendectomy surgery has remained the standard treatment for appendicitis for nearly 120 years till recently, a group of medical researchers started proclaiming the benefits of antibiotics-only treatment. Traditionally, antibiotics were used prior to an appendectomy to contain the bacterial infection. The modern laparoscopic appendectomy involves short hospital stay, quick recovery time, and very few post-surgical complications. Thus most adult patients with appendicitis may still prefer laparoscopic surgery over antibiotics-only treatment method in fear of a relapse and additional treatment costs later.

Using antibiotics for children with appendicitis
Research indicates that treating juvenile appendicitis cases with antibiotics may be a reasonable alternative to traditional surgery only if the family approves the method. Many parents prefer non-invasive treatment procedures without anesthesia over surgical methods, when it comes to treating their children. A fairly recent study found that three out of every four children with simple appendicitis were successfully treated with antibiotics alone. Thus, there is a growing trend among the health practitioners to treat juvenile appendicitis with antibiotics-only treatment procedure.

The main limitation of all the recent studies on appendicitis patients of varying age groups is that sufficient data has not been found on patient outcomes after antibiotics-only treatment. The patient outcomes would provide such information as lost work time, post-treatment quality of life, out-of-pocket costs, and chances of future relapse and associated cost burdens. Unless such data is widely available, it may be too early or difficult for patients to determine which treatment procedure is going to be better and more long lasting, both for adults and children.

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