Background: Appendicitis is one of the most frequent acute surgical conditions of the abdomen, and appendectomy is one of the most commonly performed operations in the world. However, epidemiological data on appendicitis have not been reported for South Korean or East Asian populations.
Methods: We analyzed the epidemiological features and lifetime risk of appendicitis and appendectomy in South Korea using data collected for the national health insurance database from 2005 through 2007.
Results: Appendectomy was performed in 59.70% of inpatients diagnosed with appendicitis. The overall incidences of appendicitis, total appendectomy, and perforated appendectomy were 22.71, 13.56, and 2.91 per 10 000 population per year, respectively. The incidence of appendicitis and appendectomy showed clear seasonality, with a peak in summer. The standardized lifetime risks of appendicitis and appendectomy were constant from 2005 through 2007. A life table model suggests that the lifetime risk of appendicitis is 16.33% for males and 16.34% for females, and that the lifetime risk of appendectomy is 9.89% for males and 9.61% for females.
Conclusions: As compared to results obtained in research on Western populations, appendicitis and appendectomy had a similar perforation rate and seasonality, but a higher overall incidence, in South Koreans. Between 2005 and 2007, the incidence of appendicitis and appendectomy was constant. Overall, an estimated 15 incidental appendectomies are performed to prevent 1 inpatient with suspected appendicitis, and 26 incidental appendectomies are performed to prevent 1 appendectomy. Incidental appendectomy may have greater preventive value in Koreans.