Study: Surgery best treatment for appendicitis, not antibiotics

A person suffering from an appendicitis should receive surgery and not try to treat the condition with antibiotics, a study said.

Contrary to a study in September, Stanford researchers reported this week that surgery is still the best treatment option for appendicitis. Photo by derneuemann/Pixabay
Contrary to a study in September, Stanford researchers reported this week that surgery is still the best treatment option for appendicitis. Photo by derneuemann/Pixabay

The Stanford University School of Medicine study, published Wednesday in the Jama Network, said that treating an inflamed appendix with antibiotics is more costly than just having surgery, contradicting previous recent reports that suggest its better to treat appendicitis with antibiotics.
“People treated with antibiotics alone have a higher chance of coming back needing further treatment for appendicitis-related problems, such as abdominal abscesses,” Lindsay Sceats, a surgical resident and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “They also have a higher risk of having a reoccurrence, and the cost is no lower.”

Researchers analyzed private insurance claims from patients treated for appendicitis between 2008 and 2014. More than 95 percent of the the patients opted for surgery to treat the condition while the remaining patients used drug therapy.

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Although both treatments cured most of the patients, the costs for the patients who received antibiotics was nearly 6 percent higher than the ones who underwent surgery.

“People treated with antibiotics are more likely to come back and be hospitalized for any sort of belly pain,” Sceats said. “Doctors may also be more cautious when the appendix isn’t removed. This extra caution can be expensive.”

The study showed that treating appendicitis with antibiotics carries a higher rate of abdominal abscess and a nearly 4 percent chance of reoccurrence.

Research from the new study contradicts findings from researchers published in September that said most cases of appendicitis could be treated with antibiotics.

Still, researchers on the Stanford team think surgery is the more viable option for patients.

“These results tell us that, in most cases, surgery is still the best strategy,” Sceats said.”For your average, healthy 30-year-old, the alternative treatment is no cheaper, and it’s easier to have the surgery. You also no longer have an appendix, so you’re no longer at risk of having appendicitis again.”

ByTauren Dyson