Background: Initial antibiotic treatment for acute appendicitis has been shown to be safe in adults; so far, not much is known about the safety and efficacy of this treatment in children. The aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating initial antibiotic treatment for acute appendectomy in children with acute simple appendicitis and to evaluate the safety of this approach.
Methods: In a multicenter, prospective cohort study patients aged 7-17 years with a radiologically confirmed simple appendicitis were eligible. Intravenous antibiotics (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid 250/25 mg/kg 4 times daily; maximum 6,000/600 mg/d and gentamicin 7 mg/kg once daily) were administered for 48-72 hours. Clinical reevaluation every 6 hours, daily blood samples, and ultrasound follow-up after 48 hours was performed. In case of improvement after 48 hours, oral antibiotics were given for a total of 7 days. At any time, in case of clinical deterioration or non-improvement after 72 hours, an appendectomy could be performed. Follow-up continued until 8 weeks after discharge. Adverse events were defined as major complications of antibiotic treatment, such as allergic reactions, perforated appendicitis, and recurrent appendicitis.
Results: Of 44 eligible patients, 25 participated (inclusion rate, 57%; 95% CI, 42%-70%). Delayed appendectomy was performed in 2, and the other 23 were without symptoms at the 8 weeks follow-up. Minor complications occurred in three patients. None of the patients suffered from an adverse event or a recurrent appendicitis.
Conclusion: Our study shows that an RCT comparing initial antibiotic treatment strategy with urgent appendectomy is feasible in children; the intervention seems to be safe.
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