Protocolized management of pediatric complicated appendicitis leads to improved outcomes

Pediatr Surg Int. 2022 Jun;38(6):891-897. doi: 10.1007/s00383-022-05124-z. Epub 2022 Apr 9.


Purpose: We aimed to evaluate a complicated appendicitis clinical practice guideline at our institution.

Methods: Records were compared before and after protocol implementation. We standardized an ED consult pathway, antibiotic use and need for early appendectomy (EA) versus interval appendectomy (IA). We evaluated demographics, clinical characteristics, and outcomes. Subgroup analysis was performed to compare patients with small abscess treated with IA pre-protocol versus similar patients treated by EA post-protocol.

Results: In total 246 patients were reviewed (Pre-protocol = 152, Post-protocol = 94). Pre-protocol early appendectomy rate was 51% versus 82% on post-protocol patients. There were no differences in demographics. Post-protocol the use of preoperative imaging significantly decreased (Pre 92% vs. 56%, p = 0.0001), as well as the use of discharge antibiotics (Pre 93% vs. Post 27%, p = 0.0001) with no change in abscess rate. Overall, post-protocol patients had fewer total CT scans performed (Pre 40% vs. Post 28%, p = 0.03) and decreased total length of stay (Pre 7.7 vs. Post 6.5 days, p = 0.049). On subgroup analysis, post-protocol EA with no or small abscess had lower median number of admissions, decreased total LOS (Pre IA 9 days vs. Post EA 5 days, p = 0.00001) and fewer complications (Pre IA 42% vs. EA 22%, p = 0.022).

Conclusion: The establishment of a standardized pediatric complicated appendicitis protocol may lead to improved outcomes and resource utilization. Patients presenting with no or small abscess may be the least likely to benefit from interval appendectomy.

Level of evidence: Level III.

Keywords: Abscess; Appendicitis; Early appendectomy; Interval appendectomy; Outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / complications
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Appendectomy / adverse effects
  • Appendicitis* / complications
  • Appendicitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Appendicitis* / surgery
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents