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Laparoscopic appendectomy has been shown to improve postoperative recovery when compared with open appendectomy. The present randomized trial was conducted to evaluate any further difference in outcome between needlescopic appendectomy (NA) and conventional laparoscopic appendectomy (CLA) in the management of acute appendicitis. Patients with the clinical diagnosis of acute appendicitis were randomized to either NA (instrument size ≤3 mm) or CLA (instrument size ≥5 mm). Standardized anesthetic technique and perioperative management were adopted. The primary end point was length of postoperative hospital stay. Other parameters such as conversion rate, postoperative pain score and analgesic requirement, return of bowel function, resumption of normal activities, complication rate, and length of the final scars were also assessed and compared. A total of 363 patients (NA: 174, CLA: 189) were recruited. Both approaches could accurately arrive at the diagnosis (NA: 98.3%; CLA: 100%). Compared with CLA, NA resulted in a significantly longer operation time (P = 0.015) and a higher conversion rate (P < 0.001). The final scars of the NA group were significantly shorter when compared with the CLA group (P < 0.001). Otherwise, there was no statistical difference between the 2 groups in terms of complication rate, postoperative pain score, length of postoperative stay, and other recovery parameters. NA resulted in a longer operation time and higher conversion rate. Except for a smaller scar, the present study was unable to demonstrate any other short-term benefits. Thus, the technique cannot be routinely recommended.