Balancing the normal appendectomy rate with the perforated appendicitis rate: implications for quality assurance

Am Surg. 1992 Apr;58(4):264-9.


Debate continues as to what should be the appropriate "negative" appendectomy rate for patients suspected of having acute appendicitis. The controversy centers around balancing the complications of appendectomy for a normal appendix with those for a perforated appendix. By using a decision analysis approach to the probable outcomes of appendectomy for a normal appendix, acute appendicitis, and perforated appendicitis, this study provides one answer to this question. These outcomes are based on a review of the results of over 10,000 appendectomies. There is an inverse relationship between the normal appendectomy rate and perforated appendicitis rate. The overall complication rate in patients suspected of having appendicitis improved when the rate of perforated appendicitis was lowered, even if this meant raising the negative appendectomy rate. The perforation rate seemed to level off at approximately 10 per cent. The quality of surgical care delivered to a given population should not be judged solely on the normal appendectomy rate, but this rate should be interpreted in the light of the perforated appendicitis rate. Quality assurance assessments should focus first on perforated appendicitis and only later on normal appendectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Appendectomy / adverse effects
  • Appendectomy / mortality
  • Appendectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Appendicitis / surgery*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation / surgery*
  • Laparotomy / adverse effects
  • Laparotomy / mortality
  • Laparotomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture, Spontaneous
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Washington / epidemiology