Introducing diagnostic laparoscopy for patients with suspected acute appendicitis
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The diagnostic accuracy in patients with suspected acute appendicitis varies from 60% to 90% depending on age and gender. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of diagnostic laparoscopy for diagnostic purposes in patients with suspected acute appendicitis to prevent unnecessary laparotomy and to leave a macroscopically normal appendix in place.
For this study, 500 consecutive patients with suspected acute appendicitis admitted between January 1994 and October 1996 were included prospectively in a surgical training program set to provide diagnostic laparoscopy on a 24-h-a-day basis. Primary open operation was performed when no laparoscopically trained surgeon was available. Short-term outcome measurements were recorded, and a retrospective long-term follow-up evaluation was performed.
We succeeded in performing a diagnostic laparoscopy in 376 patients and a primary open operation in 124 patients. The overall appendicitis rate was 78%. A diagnostic laparoscopy alone was performed in 66 patients (56 of which were fertile women), with a median operating time of 36 min and a complication rate of 0%. The overall complication rate was 8.0%. During a median follow-up period of 19 months one patient returned on a later occasion with appendicitis. At completion of the study, 85% of the surgeons were skilled in diagnostic laparoscopy.
Substantial education effort is needed to introduce diagnostic laparoscopy on a 24-h-a-day basis. Diagnostic laparoscopy has a high rate of accuracy, short operating time, and low associated morbidity, and prevents unnecessary laparotomy. It is possible to leave a macroscopically normal-appearing appendix in place.
Key wordsAppendicitis Diagnostic laparoscopy Laparoscopic appendicectomy
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