Ulster Med J. 2021 May;90(2):86-89. Epub 2021 Jul 8.
BACKGROUND: Traditional surgical dogma is that paediatric appendicitis necessitates an appendicectomy; however there is an increasing cohort of evidence suggesting that non-operative management (NOM) using antibiotic therapy is safe and effective. During the COVID-19 surge (April - June 2020) with centralization of paediatric surgical care and risks from anaesthetics to both patients and staff a NOM pathway was used to manage clinically diagnosed appendicitis in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC).
METHODS: Prospective data collection was undertaken of all children (<16 years) diagnosed with appendicitis who entered the NOM pathway in RBHSC from 01/04/2020 to 30/06/2020. This was compared to a cohort from the same timeframe in 2019. Primary end-points were inpatient success rate of NOM and 30-day success rate of NOM (success defined as no appendectomy performed).
RESULTS: 47 patients completed the NOM pathway, with 43% (20/47) suspected to have complicated appendicitis. The cohort was similar to that of 2019 in terms of age (p=0.1) and sex (p=0.8), but was 155% larger (42 v. 20).For those with simple appendicitis, there was a 96% (26/27) success rate of NOM on discharge, with a 93% (25/27) 30-day success rate. For complicated appendicitis, there was a 40% (8/20) success rate on discharge, with a 30% (6/20) 30-day success rate.
CONCLUSION: The use of a NOM pathway for paediatric appendicitis during the COVID-19 surge in Northern Ireland was safe and effective for staff and patients. With a small sample size and restricted follow up more evidence is required to prove if this is an effective treatment modality with a return to normal theatre availability. In the interests of antibiotic stewardship we would not advocate NOM pathways utilisation by non-surgical clinicians.