[Laparoscopic or open appendectomy. Critical review of the literature and personal experience]

A Cariati, E Brignole, E Tonelli, M Filippi, F Guasone, A De Negri, L Novello, C Risso, A Noceti, M Giberto, R Giua
Il Giornale di Chirurgia 2001, 22 (10): 353-7

UNLABELLED: In the era of video-laparoscopic surgery there are a lot of surgeons that still continue to perform open appendectomy. This choice is the consequence of the good results of open appendectomy (clinical, cosmetic, hospital stays and hospital costs). Published trials on laparoscopic appendectomy don't show that it is superior to the open approach. The aim of this study is to critically review the literature on laparoscopic and traditional appendectomies and to report a clinical experience on 86 consecutive patients that underwent open appendectomy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From September 2000 to March 2001, in the Department of Emergency Surgery of Villa Scassi Hospital in Genoa, 86 patients underwent open appendectomy (32 men; mean age 29.8 years; range 15-54 years/54 women; mean age 22.4 years; range 13-80 years). All the patients underwent blood examinations, abdomino-pelvic ultrasonographys and the women gynecological evaluation. The Authors used, almost always, the Stropeni way of access (cutaneous Mac Burney and right para-rectal incision of the muscles). Discharge has been done as soon as possible. Removed appendices were submitted to histological examination and were classified as normal or pathologic according to the severity of the lesion. Review of articles has been done on Medline.

RESULTS: Suspected appendicitis have been confirmed by histological examination that documented 1 normal appendix, 7 chronic appendicitis, 45 acute catharralis, 22 acute suppurative and 11 gangrenous or perforated appendicitis. The specificity of open appendectomy has been 97.6% (100% for men). Post-operative complications were: 2 wound infections and 1 recurrence of an abscess (2.58%). Open appendectomy did carry an hospital bill of 2,500,000 IT liras (1,200 USA dollars) for non complicated appendicitis and 2,000 USA dollars for perforated appendicitis. The early discharge allowed us to spend 119 millions IT liras less in 7 months (99,600 USA dollars in a year).

DISCUSSION: The role of laparoscopic appendectomy isn't still established. After a critical review of the literature we can suggest that: 1) laparoscopic appendectomy increase operative time (63 vs 43 minutes: p < 0.0001); 2) laparoscopic approach can reduce the length of post-operative stay in hospital; 3) hospital bill is strongly reduced by open appendectomy (4,274 vs 7,923 USA dollars). On our experience the cost of the hospital for uncomplicated appendicitis is 2,500,000 IT liras (1,200 USA dollars). Otherwise it has been suggested that laparoscopic appendectomy has a better diagnostic accuracy respect to open appendectomy. Some Authors report a percentage of "negative" appendices of 16-50%. In Authors experience the percentage of "negative" appendices is 1.3% and so the diagnostic accuracy is 96% in women and 100% in men, probably because we systematically performed a preoperative abdomino-pelvic ultrasonography and, for the women, a gynecological evaluation. In conclusion, laparoscopic appendectomy should be done in case of suspected appendicitis in women. In the other cases, when there is a strong clinical suspect of appendicitis and, in particular, in case of suppurative appendicitis, the Authors recommend to perform an open appendectomy using the Stropeni approach. In case of perforated appendicitis with abdominal abscess they recommend to perform an open appendectomy using the right para-rectal approach or the median umbilical-pubis approach.

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