Safety of perioperative ketorolac administration in pediatric appendectomy

J Surg Res. 2017 Oct:218:232-236. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.05.087. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


Background: Recent studies in adults undergoing gastrointestinal surgeries show an increased rate of complications with the use of ketorolac. This calls into question the safety of ketorolac in certain procedures. We sought to evaluate the impact of perioperative ketorolac administration on outcomes in pediatric appendectomy.

Methods: The Pediatric Health Information System database was queried for patients aged 5-17 y with a primary diagnosis of appendicitis and a primary procedure of appendectomy during the period 2010-2014. Patients with procedures suggesting incidental appendectomy, those records with data quality issues, deaths, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation were excluded. Variables recorded included age, sex, race, ethnicity, discharge year, complex chronic conditions, geographic region, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and whether appendicitis was coded as complicated. The exposure variable was ketorolac administration on the day of or day after operation. The primary outcomes of interest were any surgical complications during the initial encounter, postoperative length of stay (LOS), total cost for the initial visit, any readmission to ambulatory, observation, or inpatient status within 30 d, and readmission with a diagnosis of peritoneal abscess or other postoperative infection or with transabdominal drainage performed.

Results: A total of 78,926 patients were included in the analysis cohort. Mean age was 11.4 y (standard deviation 3.3 y), the majority were males (61%), White (70%), and non-Hispanic (65%). Few had a complex chronic condition (3%) or required mechanical ventilation (2%) or an intensive care unit admission (1%). Patients with complicated appendicitis comprised 28% of the cohort. Most (73%) received ketorolac on postoperative day 0-1; those with complicated appendicitis were more likely to receive ketorolac. In all, 2.6% of the cohort had a surgical complication during the index visit, 4.3% were readmitted within 30 d, and 2% had a postoperative infection or transabdominal drainage (1% in the uncomplicated group and 5% in the complicated group). Median postoperative LOS was 1 d and mean cost was $9811 ± $9509. On bivariate analysis, ketorolac administration was associated with a decrease in same-visit surgical complications (P = 0.004) and cost ($459 decrease, P < 0.001) but was not associated with readmission, postoperative LOS, or postoperative infection. On multivariate analysis, ketorolac administration was associated with a significant decrease in any complication (adjusted odds ratio 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.80-0.99) and cost (analysis of variance P < 0.001) but was not associated with readmission, postoperative LOS, or postoperative infection.

Conclusions: Based on a large, contemporary data set from children's hospitals, ketorolac administration in the immediate postoperative period after appendectomy for appendicitis is common and was not associated with an increase in postoperative LOS, postoperative infection, or any-cause 30-d readmission. Ketorolac was, however, independently associated with a lower overall rate of postoperative complications and cost in this population.

Keywords: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; Pediatric surgery; Primary appendicitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Appendectomy / adverse effects
  • Appendectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketorolac / adverse effects*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Ketorolac