The use of pre- or postoperative antibiotics in surgery for appendicitis: a systematic review

Scand J Surg. 2014 Mar;103(1):14-20. doi: 10.1177/1457496913497433. Epub 2013 Sep 20.


Background and aim: The aim of this study was to review the literature regarding the use of pre- and/or postoperative antibiotics in the management of appendicitis, using data obtained from PubMed and the Cochrane Library.

Material and methods: A literature search was conducted using the terms "appendicitis" combined with "antibiotics." Studies were selected based on relevance for the evidence on prophylactic and postoperative treatment with regard to the route and duration of drug administration and the findings of surgery.

Results: Patients with acute appendicitis should receive preoperative, broad-spectrum antibiotics. The use of postoperative antibiotics is only recommended in cases of perforation, and treatment should then be given intravenously, for a minimum period of 3-5 days for adult patients, until clinical signs such as fever resolve and laboratory parameters such as C-reactive protein curve and white blood cell (WBC) start to decline.

Conclusion: Preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended in all patients with acute appendicitis, whereas postoperative antibiotics only in cases of perforation.

Keywords: Acute appendicitis; antibiotic prophylaxis; antibiotic treatment; appendectomy; intravenous antibiotics; oral antibiotics; perforated appendicitis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Appendectomy*
  • Appendicitis / drug therapy*
  • Appendicitis / surgery
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents