• Vol. 36 No. 4, 277–280
  • 15 April 2007

Perforated Appendicitis in Children: Benefits of Early Laparoscopic Surgery



Introduction: The aim of this study was to analyse the feasibility, safety and benefits of laparoscopic appendicectomy (LA) in comparison with open appendicectomy (OA) for perforated appendicitis (PA) in children. Materials and Methods: A retrospective analysis of all consecutive cases of PA who underwent OA or LA between July 2001 and April 2004 was done. The patient demographics, duration of symptoms and operative findings were noted and the feasibility, safety and benefits of LA were analysed with respect to postoperative recovery and complications. Results: One hundred and thirty-seven consecutive patients with PA underwent either OA (n = 46) or LA (n = 91). Both groups were comparable with respect to patient demographics, duration of symptoms and operative findings. The mean operative time was 106.5 min (95% CI, 100.2 - 112.8) in the LA group and 92.8 min (95% CI, 82.9-102.7) in the OA group (P = 0.02). The return to afebrile status after surgery was significantly faster in the LA group [mean, 45.4 hours (95% CI, 36.8-54)] than the OA group [mean, 77 hours (95% CI 56.7-97.3)] (P = 0.007). The mean duration for postoperative opioid analgesia was 2.5 days (95% CI, 2.2-2.7) for LA and 3.2 days (95% CI, 2.9- 3.6) for OA (P = 0.001). The resumption of oral feeds after surgery was at 3.1 days (95% CI, 2.8-3.3) for LA and 3.7 days (3.4-4.1) for OA (P = 0.005). The length of the hospital stay was shorter in the LA group [mean, 6.5 days (95% CI, 6.1-6.8)] as compared to that of the OA group [mean, 8.2 days (95% CI, 7.1-9.3)] (P = 0.006). Postoperative complications included wound infection, adhesive intestinal obstruction and pelvic abscess formation. The incidence of these complications was 5.6% in the LA group and 19.6% in the OA group (P = 0.01). Nine patients (9.8%) needed conversion to open surgery in the LA group. None of the LA patients had wound infection. Conclusion: LA is feasible, safe and beneficial in children with PA.

Despite perforated appendicitis (PA) being a common surgical emergency in childhood, controversy still exists with regard to its management in this era of minimal access surgery. Open appendicectomy (OA) has been accepted as the standard procedure for PA. However, OA has been associated with prolonged hospitalisation and significant complications such as wound infection, intra-abdominal abscess and adhesive intestinal obstruction. With the advent of minimally invasive surgery, laparoscopic appendicectomy (LA) has been routine for simple appendicitis in many centers. However, the role of laparoscopic approach for PA in children is still debatable. We retrospectively reviewed our results in the application of LA and OA for PA and analysed the feasibility, safety and benefits of LA.

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