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BMJ Open. 2011 Feb 23;1(1):e000006. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000006.

The NOTA study: non-operative treatment for acute appendicitis: prospective study on the efficacy and safety of antibiotic treatment (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) in patients with right sided lower abdominal pain.

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1
Department of Emergency, Emergency Surgery and Trauma Surgery Unit, Trauma Center, Maggiore Hospital - Bologna Local Health District, Bologna, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Case control studies that randomly assign patients with diagnosis of acute appendicitis to either surgical or non-surgical treatment yield a relapse rate of approximately 14% at one year. It would be useful to know the relapse rate of patients who have, instead, been selected for a given treatment based on a thorough clinical evaluation, including physical examination and laboratory results (Alvarado Score) as well as radiological exams if needed or deemed helpful. If this clinical evaluation is useful, the investigators would expect patient selection to be better than chance, and relapse rate to be lower than 14%. Once the investigators have established the utility of this evaluation, the investigators can begin to identify those components that have predictive value (such as blood analysis, or US/CT findings). This is the first step toward developing an accurate diagnostic-therapeutic algorithm which will avoid risks and costs of needless surgery.

METHODS/DESIGN:

This will be a single-cohort prospective observational study. It will not interfere with the usual pathway, consisting of clinical examination in the Emergency Department (ED) and execution of the following exams at the physician's discretion: full blood count with differential, C reactive protein, abdominal ultrasound, abdominal CT. Patients admitted to an ED with lower abdominal pain and suspicion of acute appendicitis and not needing immediate surgery, are requested by informed consent to undergo observation and non operative treatment with antibiotic therapy (Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid). The patients by protocol should not have received any previous antibiotic treatment during the same clinical episode. Patients not undergoing surgery will be physically examined 5 days later. Further follow-up will be conducted at 7, 15 days, 6 months and 12 months. The study will conform to clinical practice guidelines and will follow the recommendations of the Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved on November 2009 by Maggiore Hospital Ethical Review Board (ID CE09079). Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01096927.

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