Suspected appendicitis and COVID-19, a change in investigation and management-a multicentre cohort study
Mak, W. K.
JournalLangenbeck's Archives of Surgery
Rights# Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020
MetadataShow full item record
Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has reformed global healthcare delivery. On 25 March 2020, Intercollegiate guidelines were published in the UK to promote safe surgical provision during the COVID-19 outbreak advocating non-operative management or avoidance of laparoscopy when surgery is essential. The effects of this on the investigation and management of appendicitis remain unknown. Methods: We performed a multicentre, prospective, observational study from the start of the new guidelines to the 6th of May 2020. We included all patients referred to surgical teams with suspected appendicitis. A recent historical cohort was identified for comparison. The primary outcome was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of non-operative management in appendicitis. Secondary outcomes included imaging, negative appendicectomy rate (NAR), length of stay (LOS) and 30-day complications. Results: A total of 63/164 (38%) patients compared to 79/191 (41%) were diagnosed with appendicitis before and after the guidelines were introduced (p = 0.589). CT scanning increased (71/164 vs 105/191; p = 0.033) while ultrasound scanning decreased (71/164 vs 62/191; p = 0.037). Appendicitis was more likely to be managed non-operatively (11/63 vs 51/79; p < 0.001) and, of those managed surgically, with an open approach (3/52 vs 26/28 p < 0.001). The NAR also reduced (5/52 vs 0/28; p = 0.157). LOS was shorter in non-operatively managed patients (1 day vs 3 days; p < 0.001) without a difference in complications (10/51 vs 4/28; p = 0.760). Conclusion: Introduction of the guidelines was associated with changes in practice. Despite these changes, short-term complications did not increase and LOS decreased. Questions remain on the longer-term complication rates in non-operatively managed patients.