Objective: To compare the effectiveness and adverse event rates of early vs interval appendectomy in children with perforated appendicitis.
Design: Nonblinded randomized trial.
Setting: A tertiary-referral urban children's hospital.
Patients: A total of 131 patients younger than 18 years with a preoperative diagnosis of perforated appendicitis.
Interventions: Early appendectomy (within 24 hours of admission) vs interval appendectomy (6-8 weeks after diagnosis).
Main outcome measures: Time away from normal activities (days). Secondary outcomes included the overall adverse event rates and the rate of predefined specific adverse events (eg, intra-abdominal abscess, surgical site infection, unplanned readmission).
Results: Early appendectomy, compared with interval appendectomy, significantly reduced the time away from normal activities (mean, 13.8 vs 19.4 days; P < .001). The overall adverse event rate was 30% for early appendectomy vs 55% for interval appendectomy (relative risk with interval appendectomy, 1.86; 95% confidence interval, 1.21-2.87; P = .003). Of the patients randomized to interval appendectomy, 23 (34%) had an appendectomy earlier than planned owing to failure to improve (n = 17), recurrent appendicitis (n = 5), or other reasons (n = 1).
Conclusions: Early appendectomy significantly reduced the time away from normal activities. The overall adverse event rate after early appendectomy was significantly lower compared with interval appendectomy.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00435032.