Nonoperative treatment with antibiotics versus surgery for acute nonperforated appendicitis in children: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Ann Surg. 2015 Jan;261(1):67-71. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000000835.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and safety of nonoperative treatment of acute nonperforated appendicitis with antibiotics in children.

Methods: A pilot randomized controlled trial was performed comparing nonoperative treatment with antibiotics versus surgery for acute appendicitis in children. Patients with imaging-confirmed acute nonperforated appendicitis who would normally have had emergency appendectomy were randomized either to treatment with antibiotics or to surgery. Follow-up was for 1 year.

Results: Fifty patients were enrolled; 26 were randomized to surgery and 24 to nonoperative treatment with antibiotics. All children in the surgery group had histopathologically confirmed acute appendicitis, and there were no significant complications in this group. Two of 24 patients in the nonoperative treatment group had appendectomy within the time of primary antibiotic treatment and 1 patient after 9 months for recurrent acute appendicitis. Another 6 patients have had an appendectomy due to recurrent abdominal pain (n = 5) or parental wish (n = 1) during the follow-up period; none of these 6 patients had evidence of appendicitis on histopathological examination.

Conclusions: Twenty-two of 24 patients (92%) treated with antibiotics had initial resolution of symptoms. Of these 22, only 1 patient (5%) had recurrence of acute appendicitis during follow-up. Overall, 62% of patients have not had an appendectomy during the follow-up period. This pilot trial suggests that nonoperative treatment of acute appendicitis in children is feasible and safe and that further investigation of nonoperative treatment is warranted.

Trial registration: NCT01572558.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Abdominal Pain / surgery
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis / complications
  • Appendicitis / drug therapy*
  • Appendicitis / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Meropenem
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recurrence
  • Thienamycins / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Thienamycins
  • Metronidazole
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Meropenem

Associated data