Surgery is never fun. Even if it’s a mild one, most of us would like to avoid it if at all possible. The problem with Appendicitis is that it’s a fairly common condition that affects one in ten (1 in 10) adults, and for over a hundred (100) years the answer to it has been surgery.
But now, a team of Finnish researchers have proved that most patients can be easily treated with mere antibiotics, giving the medical community a powerful reason to abandon routine surgeries.
The study was published earlier this week, on Tuesday (May 16, 2015), in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and informs that the condition can become fatal if left untreated. However, appendectomies don’t have to be the default treatment unless it’s a complex case.
Dr. Edward Livingston, a surgeon and editor at JAMA, was not involved in the study, but supports the findings and wrote an editorial stating that “The time has come to consider abandoning routine appendectomy for patients. The operation served patients well for more than 100 years. With development of more precise diagnostic capabilities like CT [scans] and effective broad-spectrum antibiotics, appendectomy may be unnecessary for uncomplicated appendicitis, which now occurs in the majority of appendicitis cases”.
For the study, researchers at Turku University Hospital in Finland looked at 530 patients, with the age between 18 and 60. The participants were randomly chosen to be treated either with antibiotics or by undergoing surgery. Those treated with antibiotics received them for ten (10) days.
The results showed that three out of four (3 out of 4) of the patients who took antibiotics easily recovered. The pain went away and they able to move on with their lives. Even though they didn’t require it, some of them went to have surgery after completing the antibiotics treatments. The researchers note that none of them experienced complications or a worsening of the conciliation due to postponing the appendectomy while they were on antibiotics.
The team from Turku University Hospital is hopeful that their study will help patients make an informed decision when it comes to choosing between the two (2) treatment options.
The findings have sparked controversy in the scientific community. Dr. Philip Barie, a surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical College, was quick to point out that antibiotics did not manage to treat a quarter of the patients and said that this failure rate is unacceptable. He firmly believes that people should undergo surgery if they want to be safe.
But Dr. Livingston disagrees. He stresses that unless you have complicated appendicitis, you will most likely recover from antibiotics alone. He reminds critics that after antibiotics were discovered, in the 1950s, several doctors used them to treat patients with appendicitis. He firmly believes that perception is the only problem, as surgery is perceived ti have a greater benefit than it does.
Dr. Paulina Salminen, lead author and surgeon at Turku University Hospital in Finland, admits that her and her team used open surgery for the study, rather than laparoscopic surgery, which is a lot more common. She explained that the decision was made so that the results can be generalized to include places where laparoscopic surgery is not available.
She went on to inform that any surgical complications that occurred were due to infections at the site of the incision and pointed out that these infections can occur with laparoscopies as well.
Image Source: medimoon.com