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Although laparoscopic appendicectomy has been performed since 1983, the optimal approach for appendicectomy is still under debate. A systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized controlled trials between 1995 and 2006 was undertaken. Studies were analyzed overall and in 2 subgroups (pre-2000 and post-2000) to examine for changes in outcomes with increased laparoscopic experience. Operation time was significantly longer for laparoscopy and hospital stay was shorter. Operating time reduced markedly for laparoscopy on subgroup analysis. The risks of postoperative ileus and wound infection are lower for laparoscopy. Perhaps paradoxically, the risk of intra-abdominal abscess development is significantly raised with laparoscopy with an odds ratio of 2.26 (P=0.0002). Laparoscopic appendicectomy is a safe and effective method of treating acute appendicitis. This meta-analysis shows improvement in the outcomes of laparoscopy with increasing laparoscopic experience but open surgery appears to still confer benefits, especially in terms of intra-abdominal abscess incidence.