Study: Antibiotics Could Be As Effective As Appendectomy
April 7, 2012

Study: Antibiotics Could Be As Effective As Appendectomy

Antibiotics could be just as effective as surgery when it comes to treating one type of appendicitis, researchers at the Nottingham Digestive Diseases Center report in a recently-published study.

According to USA Today, as many as two thirds of people suffering from acute uncomplicated appendicitis could be able to avoid surgery and recover by using only antibiotics. The study was published in the April 5 edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

While acute appendicitis has been treated by surgically removing the organ through a surgery known as an appendectomy for more than a century, recent studies have reported fewer complications in those treated with antibiotic therapy than in those who had their appendixes removed, and researchers at the Center's NIHR Biomedical Research Unit set out to compare the two treatment methods in terms of safety and effectiveness.

To do so, the experts conducted four trials involving a total of 900 adult patients who had been diagnoses with uncomplicated acute appendicitis, said Monica DyBuncio of CBS News. Of those subjects, 470 were treated with antibiotics, while 430 underwent appendectomies.

They found that antibiotic treatment was successful in 63% of those who received it, and there were 31% fewer complications than there were with surgery, with "no significant difference in the length of hospital stay or risk of developing complicated appendicitis between the two groups," DyBuncio added.

"We conclude that antibiotic therapy is a safe initial therapy for patients with uncomplicated acute appendicitis," though individuals who do experience complications following antibiotic treatment will still need to have the organ surgically removed, study researcher and University of Nottingham professor of gastrointestinal surgery Dileep N. Lobo told Kathleen Doheny of WebMD Health News .

In a rebuttal to the study, Dr. Olaf Bakker of the University Medical Center Utrect in the Netherlands, wrote that using antibiotics "as first line treatment for appendicitis has major disadvantages," and that "more convincing" studies covering longer periods of time were needed, particularly in light of the fact that an average of one-in-five patients treated with antibiotics have a reoccurrence of appendicitis within the first year.