Incidence, demographics, and outcomes of nonoperative management of appendicitis in the United States

Christopher B. Horn, Dajun Tian, Grant V. Bochicchio, Isaiah R. Turnbull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Appendicitis is the most common intraabdominal surgical emergency in the United States, with over 250,000 cases each year. Several recent studies have evaluated the efficacy of nonoperative management of appendicitis. We measured changes in the treatment of appendicitis in the United States from 1998 to 2014 and evaluated outcomes in the contemporary cohort of appendicitis cases from 2010 to 2014. Methods: The National Inpatient Sample was queried for cases with a principal diagnosis of appendicitis. Cases with peritoneal abscesses were excluded. We determined trends in management and then compared cases managed nonoperatively versus those managed with early operation for demographics and outcomes including mortality, total charges, and length of stay using univariate analysis, binary logistic regression analysis, and case-control matching. Results: Although early operation remains the dominant treatment for acute appendicitis in the United States, there is an accelerating trend in nonoperative management. Nonoperative management is associated with increased age, number of comorbidities, and inpatient diagnoses. In univariate, multiple regression, and case-control analysis, nonoperative management is associated with decreased total charges but significantly increased risk of mortality. Conclusions: Elderly patients and patients with medical comorbidities are more likely to be treated nonoperatively for appendicitis than younger patients. Although previously published data support nonoperative management of appendicitis in low-risk surgical patients, we suggest that elderly or medically complex patients may benefit from early operative treatment of appendicitis and are potentially at risk of poor outcomes from nonoperative management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Antibiotics-first
  • Appendicitis
  • Nonoperative


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