Background: The management of an appendiceal mass remains controversial with 2 schools of thought; early surgical intervention vs nonoperative management with or without interval appendectomy. The aim is to determine the role and safety of early laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) in children with acute appendicitis presenting with an appendiceal mass.
Methods: This is a prospective study of 88 consecutive pediatric patients who underwent attempted LA for suspected acute appendicitis at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore, between May and October 2003.
Results: A total of 88 patients with a mean age of 10 +/- 3 years (range, 3-16 years) underwent LA for an appendiceal mass (n = 22), simple appendicitis (n = 36), other complicated (gangrenous or perforated) appendicitis (n = 23), and a normal appendix (n = 7). There were 7 conversions to open appendicectomy, 3 of which occurred in patients with an appendiceal mass. There were no perioperative or postoperative mortalities. Morbidity occurred in only one patient who underwent LA for perforated appendicitis. He had prolonged sepsis that resolved after 2 weeks of intravenous antibiotics. None of the patients with an appendiceal mass developed complications. Patients who underwent early LA for an appendiceal mass had a statistically significant (P < .05) longer operating time (median, 103 minutes; interquartile range, 90-151 minutes, vs median, 87 minutes; interquartile range, 71-112 minutes), prolonged time to ambulation (median, 2.0 days; interquartile range, 2-2.5 days, vs median, 1.0 days; interquartile, 1-2 days), increased time to resumption of diet (median, 4 days; interquartile, 3-5 days, vs median, 2 days; interquartile, 2-3 days), and longer postoperative stay (median, 6.0 days; interquartile, 5.5-6.5 days, vs median, 4.0 days; interquartile, 3-5.5 days) compared with patients presenting with appendicitis without mass formation. However, there was no statistical difference in these parameters when LA for an appendiceal mass was compared with LA for other complicated appendicitis (perforated and gangrenous).
Conclusion: Although early LA for an appendiceal mass is a technically demanding procedure, it can be performed safely in children with minimal morbidity and mortality. In an era where patients' demand for "key-hole" surgery is rising, early LA is a safe and viable option in the management of children with an appendiceal mass. It also offers the advantage of avoiding misdiagnoses and the need for a second hospitalization.