Is laparoscopic appendectomy safe in pregnant women?

S Lyass, A Pikarsky, V H Eisenberg, U Elchalal, J G Schenker, P Reissman
Surgical Endoscopy 2001, 15 (4): 377-9

BACKGROUND: Because of limited laboratory and clinical data, no accepted guidelines concerning the safety of laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) in pregnancy have been established yet. In this prospective study, we evaluated the safety and outcome of LA in pregnant women as compared with the same control group of pregnant women who underwent open appendectomy (OA) during the same period.

METHODS: During the years 1996 to 1999, 11 consecutive pregnant women (mean age, 27 years; range 21-39 years; gestation age range, 7-34 weeks) who underwent LA were prospectively evaluated and compared with a matched group of 11 women (mean age, 30 years; range 18-42 years; gestation age range, 11-37 weeks) who underwent OA. The following parameters were analyzed: obstetric and gynecologic risk factors, length of procedure, perioperative complications, length of stay, and outcome of pregnancy. Both groups were well matched in age and risk factors for pregnancy loss.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the length of procedure (60 vs. 46 min) and the complications rate (one in each group) between the LA and OA groups, respectively. There was no conversion in the LA group. The length of postoperative stay was shorter in the LA group (3.6 vs 5.2 days; p = 0.05). There was no fetal loss or other adverse outcome of pregnancy in either group, and all the women in both groups had normal full-term delivery. The infants' development was normal in both groups for a mean follow-up period of 30 months.

CONCLUSIONS: According to this relatively small-scale study laparoscopic appendectomy in pregnant women may be as safe as open appendectomy. This procedure is technically feasible in all trimesters of pregnancy and associated with the same known benefits of laparoscopic surgery that nonpregnant patients experience.

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