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Factors associated with conversion to laparotomy in patients undergoing laparoscopic appendectomy.

BACKGROUND: Laparoscopic appendectomy (LA) has been increasingly adopted for its advantages over the open technique, but there is a possibility of conversion to open appendectomy (OA) if complications occur or the extent of inflammation prohibits successful dissection. This study aimed to identify the preoperative predictors for conversion from laparoscopic to open appendectomy.

STUDY DESIGN: Medical records of 705 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for suspected appendicitis were reviewed retrospectively. LA was attempted in 595 patients by 25 different surgeons. Factors evaluated were age, gender, body mass index, previous abdominal surgery, previous appendicitis attack, pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, duration of symptoms, local or diffuse tenderness, leukocyte count and surgeon's experience in LA.

RESULTS: Conversion to OA occurred in 58 patients (9.7%). The most common reason for conversion was dense adhesions due to inflammation, followed by localized perforation and diffuse peritonitis. Based on 261 patients evaluated by CT scan preoperatively, significant factors in the final multivariate analysis associated with conversion to OA were age > or = 65 [Odds ratio (OR) = 3.78, 95% CI:1.11-12.84], diffuse tenderness on physical examination (OR = 11.32, 95% CI: 1.32-96.62), and a surgeon with less experience in LA (< or = 10 operations, OR = 3.38, 95% CI:1.02-11.17). The presence of significant fat stranding associated with fluid accumulation, inflammatory mass or localized abscess in CT scan also significantly increased the possibility of conversion (OR = 5.60, 95% CI:2.48-12.65).

CONCLUSIONS: Identifying the potential factors for conversion preoperatively may assist the surgeons in making decisions concerning the management of patients with appendicitis and in the judicious use of LA.

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