Interval appendectomy in children clinical outcomes, financial costs and patient benefits.
Fawkner-Corbett D., Jawaid WB., McPartland J., Losty PD.
BACKGROUND: Elective interval appendectomy (IA) is traditionally advocated for the management of appendiceal mass (AM) in children. Surgeons have debated the evidence and 'risks' vs. 'benefits' to support IA. There are currently no randomised controlled trials and guiding best practice and financial costings for IA are lacking. We herein report clinical outcomes, patient benefits and tariff charges linked with the provision of IA at a regional UK paediatric surgical centre. METHODS: Hospital case records of patients with AM were identified using pathology records and hospital admission codes during a 15-year period (1997-2011). Tariff costs (£ Sterling) were calculated for all admissions during the era 2007-2011. RESULTS: 69 children were admitted with AM (61% female, median age 10.5 years, range 2.1-16 years). Median initial hospital stay with resolution of symptoms was 8 days (range 3-14 days). 61 children (88%) had elective IA (median interval 76 days, range 29-230 days). Eight (12 %) patients required emergency readmission for early appendectomy (median interval 21 days, range 6-51 days). Hospital stay for emergency readmission appendectomy in these children was significantly longer than IA (median 6 vs. 3 days, p < 0.01). Laparoscopic appendectomy vs. 'open' appendectomy was associated with shorter length of stay in the IA cohort (median 3 vs. 2 days p < 0.01). No intra-operative morbidity was recorded in the study with only a single case developing a post-operative wound infection. Median cost for IA was £1,936. Costings were higher in the emergency appendectomy group-£2,171 vs. 1,936; p = 0.09, NS. CONCLUSION: Only 12% of children at this centre develop recurrent appendicitis after primary admission with AM. Interval and emergency appendectomy were associated with low morbidity. Parents should be informed that IA may be 'non essential' surgery. Paediatric surgeons not routinely advocating IA can potentially save the NHS £1,936 per patient. Future randomised studies are warranted to confirm or refute these findings.