Many folks with appendicitis could skip surgery

Popular Science | 9/27/2018 | Staff
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
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Nearly one in 20 Americans will get appendicitis at some point in their lives, leading to 300,000 appendectomies performed every year. The vast majority of those one in 20 go under the knife, have their appendix removed, leave the hospital after a day or two or recovery, and go on with their lives. But what if you could fix your appendix woes without all the slicing? A study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests antibiotics could be a viable, effective alternative to most appendectomies, raising hopes for those who would prefer a non-operative treatment for the extremely common ailment.

The majority of acute appendicitis cases are not complicated by larger issues, like an organ rupture or signs of a tumor. “These patients can be evaluated by antibiotic therapy,” says Paulina Salminen, a surgeon based at the University of Turku in Finland and the lead author of the new study. “It takes some time to create a big change in the mindset of patients, doctors, and surgeons, but this has already started with the promising results. This could have a major impact on current surgical practices.”

Reason - Appendectomy - Treatment - Choice - Acute

There’s a good reason why the appendectomy has been the treatment of choice for acute appendicitis for over a century: “You don’t need it,” Janice Taylor, a pediatric surgeon based at the University of Florida Health, says of the offending organ. “If it’s out, it can’t hurt you. It’s a low-risk, pretty routine operation. There are millions of people walking around without appendixes, and they do just fine.”

But any invasive surgery, even one as seemingly routine as an appendectomy, bears risks, especially for patients who are in poor health or at risk for developing complications. Anesthesia sometimes creates unforeseen problems. There are also the practical hassles of surgery, like financial impacts and taking time off from work.

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