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To compare conservative treatment with index admission appendicectomy in children with acute uncomplicated appendicitis.Systematic review and meta-analysis.Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library (CENTRAL) from 1950 to 18 February 2017.Studies that assessed both appendicectomy and non-operative management of acute uncomplicated appendicitis in children of less than 18 years of age. Endpoints were postintervention complications, readmission and efficacy (successful outcome of the initial therapy).Five studies met the inclusion criteria (conservative treatment n=189; surgical intervention n=253). Compared with patients undergoing index admission appendicectomy, conservative treatment showed a reduced treatment efficacy (relative risk 0.77, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.84; p<0.001) and an increased readmission rate (relative risk 6.98, 95% CI 2.07 to 23.6; p<0.001), with a comparable rate of complications (relative risk 1.07, 95% CI 0.26 to 4.46). Exclusion of patients with faecoliths improved treatment efficacy in conservatively treated patients. One study was randomised, with the remaining four comprising cohorts assembled by patient or physician choice. Different antibiotic regimens were used between investigations. Follow-up varied from 1 to 4 years.Conservative treatment was less efficacious and was associated with a higher readmission rate. Index admission appendicectomy should in the present still be considered to be the treatment of choice for the management of uncomplicated appendicitis in children.