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Dig Surg. 2002;19(6):518-22.

Laparoscopic versus open appendectomy: between evidence and common sense.

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Chirurgische Klinik, Malteserkrankenhaus St.Hildegardis Köln-Lindenthal, Bachemer Strasse 29-31, D-50931 Cologne, Germany.



Laparoscopic surgery has been proposed to have diagnostic and therapeutic advantages over conventional surgery. The purpose of this article is to present a recently completed Cochrane review on laparoscopic surgery for suspected appendicitis on the background of daily surgical practice and the developments in the last decade.


Within the Cochrane review, various medical databases (Medline, Embase, Cochrane, SciSearch) were searched electronically until October 2001. Congress proceedings were searched by hand. Randomized controlled trials were included that assessed the therapeutic effects of laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) versus open appendectomy (OA) in adults and children, the diagnostic effects of laparoscopy followed by LA or OA if necessary versus immediate OA, and the therapeutic effects of diagnostic laparoscopy followed by OA if necessary versus immediate OA.


Based on 45 studies, wound infection was half as likely while intra-abdominal abscesses were three times more frequent after LA. Return to normal activity showed a uniform tendency in favor of LA. Pain was also reduced, but data vary and most primary studies were not blinded. Obvious diagnostic advantages concerned the negative appendectomy rate and the rate of patients without established diagnosis, both being reduced to 0.2-0.3 (RR).


The review finds that laparoscopic surgery for suspected appendicitis has diagnostic and therapeutic advantages as compared to conventional surgery--a fact which is in full agreement with the daily practice of surgeons interested in endoscopic surgery.

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