Background: Laparoscopic appendectomy is not yet unanimously considered the "gold standard" in the treatment of acute appendicitis because of its higher operative time, intra-abdominal abscess risk, and costs compared to open appendectomy. This study aimed to compare outcomes and cost of laparoscopic and open appendectomy in a district hospital.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of 230 patients who underwent appendectomy at the Division of General Surgery of the Civil Hospital of Ragusa, Italy, from May 2008 to May 2012 was performed. The variables analyzed included patients data (age, gender, previous abdominal surgery, preoperative WBC count, duration of symptoms, ASA risk score), rate of uncomplicated or complicated appendicitis, operative time, postoperative complications, length of hospital stay, and total costs. The patients were divided in two groups according to the surgical approach and compared for each variable. The results were analyzed using the t Student test for quantitative variables, and the Chi-square test with Yates correction and Fisher exact test for categorical.
Results: Laparoscopic appendectomy was performed in 139 patients, open appendectomy in 91. Two cases (1.4%) were converted to open procedure and included in the laparoscopic group data. Patient data and rate of complicated appendicitis were similar in the two study groups. There was no statistical difference (p = 0.476) in the mean operative time between the laparoscopic (52.2 min; range, 20-155) and open appendectomy (49.3 min; range, 20-110) groups. The overall incidence of minor and major complications was significantly lower (p = 0.006) after laparoscopic appendectomy (2.9%, 4 cases) than after open appendectomy (13.2%, 12 cases); rate of intra-abdominal abscess were similar. The length of hospital stay was significantly shorter (p = 0.001) in laparoscopic group (2.75 days; range, 1-8) than in open group (3.87 days; range, 1-19). The mean total cost was 2282 Euro in laparoscopic group and 2337 Euro in open group, with a no significant difference of 55 Euro (p = 0.812).
Conclusion: Laparoscopic appendectomy is associated with fewer complications, shorter hospital stay, and similar operative time, intra-abdominal abscess rate, and total costs, compared with open appendectomy. Therefore, laparoscopic appendectomy can be recommended as preferred approach in acute appendicitis.