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Appendicitis Treatment Apparently Does Not Need Surgery, Only Antibiotics

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Appendicitis, or the inflammation of the appendix, has long been treated with surgery, but new research confirms that it may be cured without the patients having to go under the knife.

A study from Finland revealed that appendicitis may be cured using antibiotics, following several previous reports on the method. The new research debunks the need for immediate surgery and reveals the effectiveness of treating appendicitis with antibiotics instead.

Appendicitis Does Not Require Surgery

This is not the first time that the possibility of treating appendicitis without surgery was taken under consideration. In June 2015, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 186 of 257 patients given antibiotics for appendicitis treatment no longer required appendectomy over the following year. The findings were echoed in a December 2015 study that focused on appendicitis in children and in a March 2016 study that claimed antibiotics may reduce the number of appendectomies by 92 percent.

The new study, also published in JAMA, was a follow-up to the June 2015 research, which was criticized as the long-term effects of treating appendicitis with antibiotics remained unknown. Three years later, researchers finally have an answer.

Of the patients treated with antibiotics, about 60 percent did not need to undergo appendectomy. The remaining 40 percent needed to have surgery to have their appendix removed.

Antibiotics vs Surgery When Treating Appendicitis

"I think the big issue is this — can physicians and patients accept the fact that there could be close to a 40 percent chance of recurrence in five years?" said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician from New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. For Glatter, the percentage may still be too high for many patients.

The new study's lead author, Dr. Paulina Salminen, however, said that the findings show that antibiotics, at the very least, are an effective first option for treating uncomplicated appendicitis.

Salminen said that if most cases of uncomplicated appendicitis will be treated with antibiotics, that will save a lot of patients from having to go through an appendectomy, alongside the risks that come with any surgery such as incisional hernia, infections, and abdominal pain after the operation.

The antibiotics method of treating appendicitis is continuing to gain more traction, especially with the advancement of medical technology to show whether or not emergency appendectomy is really needed or if appendicitis may be cured through antibiotics.

However, further studies are needed to check if antibiotics will also be effective to treat other complications of appendicitis, such as appendicolith, which were excluded from the new study.

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