Perforated Appendicitis: Is Laparoscopic Operation Advisable?

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Aims:A retrospective study was used to compare laparoscopic appendectomy for perforated appendicitis to open operation.Methods:Between July 1991 and June 1999 a total of 734 patients, all over 14 years of age, underwent operation for acute appendicitis. Of these patients, 125 (17%) displayed perforated appendicitis and were treated with either a laparoscopic appendectomy (n = 80; total conversion rate 36/80, 45%) or a primary open procedure (n = 45).Results:Due to selection, the 3 treatment groups (laparoscopic, laparoscopy with conversion, open operation) showed differences with respect to gender, duration of symptoms, proportion of obese patients and patients with generalized peritonitis. The median operating time was 75 min for the laparoscopic procedure, 90 min for a converted procedure and 70 min for open operation. Only 1 of 44 (2%) patients who had a laparoscopic operation, but 8 of 36 (22%) who had a converted operation, and 8 of 45 (18%) who had an open operation developed wound infection. A similar frequency of intra-abdominal abscess formation was observed in the 3 treatment groups (2/44, 5%; 3/36, 8%; 2/45, 5%). Fatal outcome occurred only in patients who underwent an open operation and presented with severe peritonitis (5/45, 11%).Conclusions:Despite limitations in comparability of patient groups, laparoscopic appendectomy was associated with a significantly lower rate of septic wound complications (p < 0.05). This was especially true for the subgroup of obese patients (BMI >26). Therefore, for patients with perityphlitic abscess or fresh purulent lower abdominal peritonitis, but not for patients with generalized peritonitis, laparoscopic appendectomy is not only justifiable but even recommended as the procedure of choice.

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