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Surg Clin North Am. 1997 Dec;77(6):1355-70.

Have the evaluation and treatment of acute appendicitis changed with new technology?

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Department of General Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, USA.


The evaluation and treatment of acute appendicitis remain essentially unchanged for the majority of individuals who present with this disease. Although advancements have been made in laboratory analysis as well as imaging via ultrasonography and CT, nothing can replace careful evaluation by an experienced surgeon. Appendicitis remains a diagnosis based primarily on history and physical examination, with further studies being useful adjuncts in atypical cases--more likely to occur in the very young or very old and most cost effective when ordered by the surgical consultant. Improvement in outcomes has not been demonstrated with routine use of "new technology." The treatment of acute appendicitis continues to be early surgical intervention. Although laparoscopic appendectomy may offer advantages in women of childbearing age and in obese individuals, its routine use is not indicated based upon current reports in the literature. Debate continues regarding the optimal treatment of the periappendiceal mass. Further clinical research regarding early operation compared with intravenous antibiotics with or without drainage, as well as comparison of outcomes with or without interval appendectomy, needs to be performed. With continued research and definition of populations likely to benefit from advances in technology, a more focused application will be possible. This will lead to improved outcomes and decreased overall cost. The issue of delay in treatment, a major determinant of morbidity associated with appendicitis, warrants further evaluation and should be addressed on a population-specific basis. Emphasis should remain on the early clinical diagnosis of acute appendicitis with its associated low morbidity and mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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