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Appendicitis: Treated with Meds, Not Knives

A Surgery Alternative

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found antibiotics used for appendicitis “noninferior” to surgical removal of the appendix. Over a quarter of a million people every year have an appendectomy; it’s in the top 20 of most commonly performed surgeries. In this study, over 1550 patients were studied: 776 were given antibiotics, 776 had surgery. 7/10 patients who received antibiotics avoided surgery within the first 90 days following treatment while 3/10 eventually did need surgery within the same time frame. Before treatment, patients in the antibiotics or surgery group experienced appendicitis symptoms for approximately the same amount of time. The antibiotic group missed less time from school/work but reported more visits to the Emergency Department and days spent in the hospital overall than those who had surgery

At a time when patients may not want to go to a hospital, antibiotics provide another option. Jeffrey Johnson, MD, medical director of Trauma at Henry Ford Hospital and co-investigator on the CODA—Comparing Outcomes of Antibiotic Drugs and Appendectomy—trial, commented, “Beyond the treatment itself, patients need to fully explore their medical condition and personal factors like time off from work and school, insurance coverage and caregiving responsibilities when making their decision. What this study shows is there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Patients ought to evaluate the benefits and risks of taking antibiotics or opting for surgery and make an informed decision on what is important to them.”

 

Access the journal article.

Read the press release on Newswise.

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