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Antibiotics May Be Enough for Some Appendicitis Patients

About 80 percent of patients can try medication first, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, June 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Although surgical removal of the appendix has long been a standard treatment, new research suggests that almost three-quarters of people treated with antibiotics could be spared appendectomy. The findings were published in the June 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Paulina Salminen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Turku University Hospital in Finland, and colleagues randomly assigned 530 patients with acute appendicitis to appendectomy or a 10-day course of antibiotics.

The researchers found that appendectomies were 99.6 percent successful. Among patients treated with antibiotics and followed for a year, 73 percent did not need surgery. However, 27 percent of the patients treated with antibiotics had to have their appendix removed within a year after treatment. But there were no major complications associated with delaying surgery, the researchers said.

Edward Livingston, M.D., deputy editor of JAMA and coauthor of an accompanying editorial, told HealthDay: "It's kind of lost to history why people started doing appendectomies, but it has become so routine that when someone comes in with appendicitis they get whisked into the operating room."

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