The effects of irrigation on outcomes in cases of perforated appendicitis in children Journal Articles uri icon

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  • INTRODUCTION: Appendicitis is the most common indication for urgent abdominal operation in children. Approximately 20%-30% of patients will have a perforation at operation. Intra-abdominal abscess after appendectomy is reported in 3%-20% of patients and adds significantly to hospital stay with increased morbidity and overall cost. Surgical dogma has long advocated for irrigation in the setting of gross pus to prevent abscess formation. METHODS: Following IRB approval, data were retrospectively collected for children who had undergone appendectomy for perforated appendicitis at one of two children's hospitals over the course of 5 y. Perforation was determined by review of operative notes. All patients had free fluid in their peritoneal cavity evacuated by suction, whereas some of the patients also had their peritoneal cavity irrigated with normal saline. Postoperative intra-abdominal abscess rates were determined based on clinical symptoms and confirmatory radiologic studies. RESULTS: There were 99 patients in the suction-only group and 139 in the irrigation group. Standard demographics were relatively similar between the two groups. There were significantly lower rates of intra-abdominal abscess formation (4.0% versus 17.2%, P = 0.002) and wound infection (1.0% versus 8.6%, P = 0.003) in the suction-only group compared with the irrigation group. We further analyzed abscess rates by surgical treatment, either laparoscopic or open appendectomy. There were 85 patients in the laparoscopic group and 152 patients in the open appendectomy group. In this subgroup analysis, there were also significantly lower rates of abscess formation in patients treated with suction only compared with irrigation in the laparoscopic (3.5% versus 18.8%, P = 0.012) and open appendectomy groups (4.2% versus 16.3%, P = 0.036). CONCLUSIONS: Results of this retrospective review indicate that a suction-only approach significantly decreased rates of abscess formation and wound infections compared to irrigation in cases of perforated appendicitis in children.


  • Hartwich, Joseph E
  • Carter, Ronald
  • Wolfe, Luke
  • Goretsky, Michael
  • Heath, Kirk
  • St. Peter, Shawn D
  • Lanning, David A

publication date

  • April 2013