Selective use of diagnostic laparoscopy in patients with suspected appendicitis
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Diagnostic laparoscopy has been introduced as a new diagnostic tool for patients with acute appendicitis. We performed diagnostic laparoscopy when the clinical diagnosis of appendicitis was in doubt. The aims of this study were to evaluate this strategy and to analyze the efficacy of diagnostic laparoscopy in patients with suspected appendicitis.
Patients and Methods
All patients referred to our hospital with suspected appendicitis during the period 1994–1997 were evaluated prospectively. The clinical diagnosis was determined by the surgeon or resident on call based on the patient’s history, physical examination, and leukocyte count. The patients were divided into three groups: group 1: appendicitis not likely. These patients were observed for 24 h or discharged. When they showed signs of appendicitis in 24 h, they were transferred to either group 2 or 3; group 2: doubt concerning diagnosis. These patients underwent diagnostic laparoscopy, and appendectomy was performed if indicated; group 3: In these patients the diagnosis appendicitis was felt to be certain. They were treated by primary appendectomy by an open procedure. In this study, 1,050 patients, 531 women (51%), 389 men (37%), and 130 children (12%) <11 yrs, were evaluated.
Altogether, 377 diagnostic laparoscopies were performed, leaving 109 healthy-looking appendices in place. This reduced the negative appendectomy rate from 25% to 14% in all surgically managed patients. The negative appendectomy rate for the women in group 2 was reduced from 49% to 14%, and for the men from 22% to 11%, so it also seemed worthwhile to perform diagnostic laparoscopy in men. Because the appendix sana was left in place in only three children, the benefit from laparoscopy is relatively small for children. In 48% of these patients a second diagnosis was obtained, most of them gynecologic in nature. There were no false-negative laparoscopies and no complications resulting from the laparoscopic procedure.
Diagnostic laparoscopy is a safe procedure that reduced the appendix sana rate without increasing the total number of operations. It is a useful method for obtaining other, mostly gynecologic, diagnoses. To further reduce the appendix sana rate, better criteria for laparoscopic assessment of the appendix are needed.
Key wordsAppendectomy Appendicitis Diagnosis Laparoscopy
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