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You Might Avoid Surgery for Appendicitis

New study says antibiotics are an option for some
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2018 5:40 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A new study says surgery isn't always needed for appendicitis and that antibiotics instead can often do the trick, the AP reports. The results from Finland contradict decades of thinking about the best way to treat an inflamed appendix. The condition has long been thought to be a medical emergency because of the risk for a burst appendix, which can be life-threatening. But advances in imaging tests make it easy to determine which patients face that danger. The study in 500 adults found that nearly two-thirds of patients treated with antibiotics fared well after five years.

About one-third had another case of appendicitis and had surgery to take out their appendix. "How should these results influence clinical decision-making?" asks Edward Livingston in the study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He explains that patients with acute uncomplicated appendicitis can choose to have surgery—which has "relatively few major complications" and the advantage of "removing the source of the disease"—or opt for antibiotics, which pose "little risk" and only a 39% chance of the appendicitis recurring over five years.

(Read more appendicitis stories.)

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