The condition, which causes the appendix – a small organ attached to the large intestine – to become inflamed due to a blockage or infection, affects mainly children and teenagers.
Appendicitis is currently treated through an operation to remove the appendix, known as an appendicectomy.
“Acute appendicitis is one of the most common general surgical emergencies worldwide and surgery has long been the gold standard of treatment. But it is invasive and costly, not to mention extremely daunting for the child concerned and their family,” said lead researcher Nigel Hall, Associate Professor of Paediatric Surgery at the University of Southampton in Britain.
“Our review shows that antibiotics could be an alternative treatment method for children,” Hall noted.
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For the study, the researchers assessed existing literature published over the past 10 years that included 10 studies reporting on 413 children who received non-operative treatment rather than an appendectomy.
The review published in the journal Pediatrics showed that no study reported any safety concern or specific adverse events related to non-surgical treatment, although the rate of recurrent appendicitis was 14 per cent.
“When we compared the adult literature to the data in our review it suggested that antibiotic treatment of acute appendicitis is at least as effective in children as in adults. This now needs to be explored more widely,” Hall said.