Acute appendicitis in children: not only surgical treatment

J Pediatr Surg. 2017 Mar;52(3):444-448. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


Purpose: An accurate diagnosis of acute appendicitis is important to avoid severe outcome or unnecessary surgery but management is controversial. The aim of study was to evaluate, in younger and older children, the efficacy of conservative management for uncomplicated appendicitis and the outcome of complicated forms underwent early surgery.

Methods: Children with acute appendicitis were investigated by clinical, laboratory variables and abdominal ultrasound and divided in two groups: complicated and uncomplicated. Complicated appendicitis underwent early surgery; uncomplicated appendicitis started conservative treatment with antibiotic. If in the next 24-48h it was worsening, the conservative approach failed and patients underwent late surgery.

Results: A total of 362 pediatric patients were included. One hundred sixty-five underwent early appendectomy; 197 patients were at first treated conservatively: of these, 82 were operated within 24-48h for failure. The total percentage of operated patients was 68.2%. An elevated association was found between surgery and ultrasound.

Conclusions: Conservative treatment for uncomplicated appendicitis had high percentage of success (58%). Complications in operated patients were infrequent. Our protocol was effective in order to decide which patients treat early surgically and which conservatively; specific red flags (age and onset) can identified patients at most risk of complications or conservative failure.

Type of study: treatment study.

Level of evidence: II.

Keywords: Abdominal ultrasound; Acute appendicitis; Appendicular mass; Conservative treatment; Early appendectomy; Surgery complications.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Appendectomy* / statistics & numerical data
  • Appendicitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Appendicitis / drug therapy*
  • Appendicitis / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography
  • Unnecessary Procedures


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents