Nonoperative Management of Uncomplicated Appendicitis

Pediatrics. 2022 May 1;149(5):e2021054693. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-054693.


Background and objectives: Several studies have revealed the success of nonoperative management (NOM) of uncomplicated appendicitis in children. Large studies of current NOM utilization and its outcomes in children are lacking.

Methods: We queried the Pediatric Health Information System database to identify children <19 years of age with a diagnosis code for appendicitis. We used linear trend analysis to assess the subsequent utilization and outcomes of NOM in children with nonperforated appendicitis over time. We calculated the proportion of children experiencing treatment failure, defined as either a subsequent appendectomy or hospitalization with a diagnosis code of perforated appendicitis.

Results: We identified 117 705 children with appendicitis over the 9-year study period. Of the 73 544 children with nonperforated appendicitis, 10 394 (14.1%) underwent NOM. The odds of NOM significantly increased (odds ratio 1.10 per study quarter, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.15). The 1-year and 5-year failure rates were 18.6% and 23.3%, respectively. Children who experienced failure of NOM had higher rates of perforation at the time of failure than did the general cohort at the time of initial presentation (45.7% vs 37.5%, P < .001). Patients undergoing NOM had higher rates of subsequent related emergency department visits (8.0% vs 5.1%, P < .001) and hospitalizations (4.2% vs 1.4%, P < .001) over a 12-month follow-up period.

Conclusions: NOM of nonperforated appendicitis in children is increasing. Although the majority of children who undergo NOM remain recurrence-free years later, they carry a substantial risk of perforation at the time of recurrence and may experience a higher rate of postoperative complications than children undergoing an immediate appendectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendicitis* / drug therapy
  • Appendicitis* / surgery
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents