Laparoscopic versus open surgery for suspected appendicitis

Stefan Sauerland, Thomas Jaschinski, Edmund Am Neugebauer
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010 October 6, (10): CD001546

BACKGROUND: Laparoscopic surgery for acute appendicitis has been proposed to have advantages over conventional surgery.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the diagnostic and therapeutic effects of laparoscopic and conventional 'open' surgery.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, CNKI, SciSearch, study registries, and the congress proceedings of endoscopic surgical societies.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized clinical trials comparing laparoscopic (LA) versus open appendectomy (OA) in adults or children. Studies comparing immediate OA versus diagnostic laparoscopy (followed by LA or OA if necessary) were separately identified.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed trial quality. Missing information or data was requested from the authors. We used odds ratios (OR), relative risks (RR), and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for analysis.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 67 studies, of which 56 compared LA (with or without diagnostic laparoscopy) vs. OA in adults. Wound infections were less likely after LA than after OA (OR 0.43; CI 0.34 to 0.54), but the incidence of intraabdominal abscesses was increased (OR 1.87; CI 1.19 to 2.93). The duration of surgery was 10 minutes (CI 6 to 15) longer for LA. Pain on day 1 after surgery was reduced after LA by 8 mm (CI 5 to 11 mm) on a 100 mm visual analogue scale. Hospital stay was shortened by 1.1 day (CI 0.7 to 1.5). Return to normal activity, work, and sport occurred earlier after LA than after OA. While the operation costs of LA were significantly higher, the costs outside hospital were reduced. Seven studies on children were included, but the results do not seem to be much different when compared to adults. Diagnostic laparoscopy reduced the risk of a negative appendectomy, but this effect was stronger in fertile women (RR 0.20; CI 0.11 to 0.34) as compared to unselected adults (RR 0.37; CI 0.13 to 1.01).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: In those clinical settings where surgical expertise and equipment are available and affordable, diagnostic laparoscopy and LA (either in combination or separately) seem to have various advantages over OA. Some of the clinical effects of LA, however, are small and of limited clinical relevance. In spite of the mediocre quality of the available research data, we would generally recommend to use laparoscopy and LA in patients with suspected appendicitis unless laparoscopy itself is contraindicated or not feasible. Especially young female, obese, and employed patients seem to benefit from LA.

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