Introduction: Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of acute abdominal pain requiring surgical intervention, but the variability of diagnosis and management continue to challenge the surgeons. Aim: This study assessed patients undergoing appendectomy to identify opportunities to improve diagnostic accuracy and outcomes. Methods: An ethically approved retrospective cohort study was undertaken between March 2016 and March 2017 at a single university hospital of all consecutive adult and paediatric patients undergoing appendectomy. Demographic data including age, gender, co-morbidities, presentation and triage timings along with investigation, imaging and operative data were analysed. Appendicitis was defined as acute based on histology coupled with intraoperative grading with the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) grades. Complications using the Clavien–Dindo classification along with 30-day re-admission rates and the negative appendectomy rates (NAR) were recorded and categorised greater and less than 25%. The use of scoring systems was assessed, and retrospective scoring performed to compare the Alvarado, Adult Appendicitis Score (AAS) and the Appendicitis Inflammatory Response (AIR) score. Results: A total of 201 patients were studied, 115 male and 86 females, of which 136/201 (67.6%) were adults and 65/201 (32.3%) paediatric. Of the adult group, 83 were male and 53 were female, and of the paediatric group, 32 were male and 33 were female. Median age was 20 years (range: 5 years to 81 years) and no patient below the age of 5 years had an appendectomy during our study period. All patients were admitted via the emergency department and median time from triage to surgical review was 2 h and 38 min, (range: 10 min to 26 h and 10 min). Median time from emergency department review to surgical review, 55 min (range: 5 min to 6 h and 43 min). Median time to operating theatre was 21 h from admission (range: 45 min to 140 h and 30 min). Out of the total patients, 173 (86.1%) underwent laparoscopic approach, 28 (13.9%) had an open approach and 12 (6.9%) of the 173 were converted to open. Acute appendicitis occurred in 166/201 (82.6%). There was no significant association between grade of appendicitis and surgeons’ categorical NAR rate (p = 0.07). Imaging was performed in 118/201 (58.7%); abdominal ultrasound (US) in 53 (26.4%), abdominal computed tomography (CT) in 59 (29.2%) and both US and CT in 6 (3%). The best cut-off point was 4 (sensitivity 84.3% and specificity of 65.7%) for AIR score, 9 (sensitivity of 74.7% and specificity of 68.6%) for AAS, and 7 (sensitivity of 77.7% and specificity of 71.4%) for the Alvarado score. Twenty-four (11.9%) were re-admitted, due to pain in 16 (58.3%), collections in 3 (25%), 1 (4.2%) wound abscess, 1 (4.2%) stump appendicitis, 1 (4.2%) small bowel obstruction and 1 (4.2%) fresh rectal bleeding. CT guided drainage was performed in 2 (8.3%). One patient had release of wound collection under general anaesthetic whereas another patient had laparoscopic drain placement. A laparotomy was undertaken in 3 (12.5%) patients with division of adhesions in 1, the appendicular stump removed in 1 and 1 had multiple collections drained. Conclusion: The negative appendectomy and re-admission rates were unacceptably high and need to be reduced. Minimising surgical variance with use of scoring systems and introduction of pathways may be a strategy to reduce NAR. New systems of feedback need to be introduced to improve outcomes.
- Adult Appendicitis Score
- Alvaro Score
- Appendicitis Inflammatory Response score
- Negative appendectomy rate
- Hospital readmission