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Delaying Appendectomies Up to 24 Hours May Be Safe

Small study sample shows practice may avoid OR interruptions, late night surgeries

THURSDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Delaying emergency appendectomies for acute appendicitis by up to 24 hours does not affect clinical outcome, suggesting these surgeries could be delayed until day-shift hours, according to a report in the May issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Fadi Abou-Nukta, M.D., and colleagues from the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, Conn., retrospectively examined the outcome of 309 patients who underwent appendectomies for acute appendicitis between January 2002 and December 2004. Patients were separated into early and late groups depending on if they had undergone surgery before or after 12 hours from presentation.

The study included 233 patients in the early group who had a mean time to surgery of 6.7 hours, as well as 76 patients in the late group with a mean time to surgery of 16.7 hours. Average patient age was 40 years. The investigators found no significant differences in length of hospital stay, operative time, percentage of advanced appendicitis or rate of complications.

"Appendectomy for acute appendicitis is the most common non-elective procedure performed by general surgeons," the authors write. Delaying surgery "decreases use of the nursing staff, anesthesia team and surgical house staff during the night shifts, and it decreases the interruption of the regular operating room schedule," they add.

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