Not So Fast With The Surgery

Appendicitis could be treated with antibiotic therapy

(RxWiki News) The sharp pain in your side with swelling and heavy discomfort could mean your appendix wants out. But surgery could wait if that's what the problem is.

A recently published study found that treating an inflamed appendix with antibiotics could be just as effective in many cases as removing it completely.

"Feel nausea and abdominal swelling? - Tell a doctor."

Jeanette Hansson, a doctoral student in the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, compared two studies of adult patients with acute appendicitis.

The first study looks at surgery compared to antibiotic therapy in about 370 patients.

The second study looked at 558 patients who were treated with antibiotics first. Patients were followed for a year in both studies.

Hansson found that only 5 to 10 percent of patients in both studies needed surgery and that a majority of people with appendicitis could be treated with antibiotics.

"Some patients are so ill that the operation is absolutely necessary, but 80 percent of those who can be treated with antibiotics recover and return to full health," she said in a press release.

In the first and second studies, 91 and 77 percent of the patients with antibiotic treatment recovered respectively, making it as effective as having the appendix removed.

The risk of having future problems within a year was between 11 and 14 percent respectively between both studies.

Patients treated with antibiotics have a lower risk of having complications than those who have surgery, but chances of future problems after five to 20 years have yet to be studied.

Side effects to the antibiotics or complications after a rescue surgery were among the most common problems after antibiotic therapy, but pockets of fluid in the abdomen could also happen.

The authors note that patients could develop a resistance to the antibiotics that could affect the treatment, but it still serves as another option to surgery.

"It's important to note that our studies show that patients who need surgery because of recurrences, or because the antibiotics haven't worked, are not at risk of any additional complications relative to those operated on in the first place," Hansson said.

Her study was defended in May and was supported by grants from the Region of Västra Götaland and the Gothenburg Medical Society.

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Review Date: 
September 29, 2012