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Adv Surg. 2013;47:119-40.

Appendicitis: changing perspectives.

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  • 1Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, LAC and USC Medical Center, University of Southern California, 2051 Marengo Street, IPT, Room C5L 100, Los Angeles, CA 90033-4525, USA.


Neoplasms are an uncommon finding after appendectomy, with malignant tumors occurring in less than 1% of the surgical specimens, and carcinoid being the most frequent malignancy. A negative or inconclusive ultrasound is not adequate to rule out appendicitis and should be followed by CT scan. For pregnant patients, MRI is a reasonable alternative to CT scan. Nonoperative treatment with antibiotics is safe as an initial treatment of uncomplicated appendicitis, with a significant decrease in complications but a high failure rate. Open and laparoscopic appendectomies for appendicitis provide similar results overall, although the laparoscopic technique may be advantageous for obese and elderly patients but may be associated with a higher incidence of intraabdominal abscess. Preoperative diagnostic accuracy is of utmost importance during pregnancy because a negative appendectomy is associated with a significant incidence of fetal loss. The increased morbidity associated with appendectomy delay suggests that prompt surgical intervention remains the safest approach. Routine incidental appendectomy should not be performed except in selected cases. Interval appendectomy is not indicated because of considerable risks of complications and lack of any clinical benefit. Patients older than 40 years with an appendiceal mass or abscess treated nonoperatively should routinely have a colonoscopy as part of their follow-up to rule out cancer or alternative diagnosis.

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